Opinion | 16.12.2022

First working session of the Inhouse Counsel Commission at the UIA annual Congress in Dakar

“Who on earth is an in-house counsel? Building bridges between in-house counsel and attorneys”

The In-house Counsel Commission celebrated its first working session at the Annual UIA Congress in Dakar on October 29, 2022, offering lively debates around the status and practice of in-house counsels in different jurisdictions.

A first round table dealt with jurisdictions where there is a clear distinction between practising attorneys and in-house counsels, uniting speakers from Guinea, Senegal, France, Italy and China. In these countries, the in-house counsels are generally not members of the Bar Associations and do not benefit from any specific legal protection.

When an attorney, member of the Bar, leaves his private practice to be hired as an in-house counsel, he has to leave the Bar and will no longer enjoy attorney-client privilege. The difference in status is mainly justified by the fact that the in-house lawyer is subject to the subordination of his employer, whereas the attorney is a sworn auxiliary of justice who is independent from his client. In the second round table, we moved to Peru and the United States, where in-house counsel and attorneys are part of the same legal profession and focused on practical considerations such as legal privilege and bar admission. We also discussed the role of lawyers in relation to emerging functions, such as compliance officers and data protection officers. The issues of regulation, independence and legal privilege were taken further in the final general discussion.

By Alexis Brunet
Hamburg, Germany