In-house attorney-client privilege split in Europe

European Union member states are split over the issue of privilege for corporate lawyers – 13 extend the privilege to them and 12 do not (Legal Week, Oct. 6, 2005 at 8). Surveys show, nonetheless, that lawyers per billion Euro of revenue stand as high in Europe as they do in the US, so the absence of the privilege hasn’t deterred companies from hiring in-house. Someone should research differences in that metric between privilege and non-privilege countries.

One other point. An opponent of the privilege said “that as in-house counsel you are inevitably in a state of conflicting interests.” Yes, getting the next pay check deters full objectivity, but don’t tell me that getting the next invoice paid doesn’t deter full objectivity. Both employees and partners resign very reluctantly.

I also wonder about the applicability of the privilege. For example, if an in-house counsel works for a law department of a company incorporated in a non-privilege country, does it make any difference if the lawyer practices in a privilege country? Conversely, if a US company has an in-house lawyer in a non-privilege country, does that lawyer lose or keep the privilege?

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