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Attorney-client privilege for in-house counsel, revisited

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Two authors, writing in Met. Corp. Counsel, Vol. 15, Oct. 2007 at 18, provide an overview of the global situation regarding this privilege (See my post of Nov. 17, 2006 and three references cited about the privilege and its bearing on law department management.). For example, in France, Italy and Sweden, confidentiality of advice provided by in-house counsel does not exist.

An argument, new to me, against extending the privilege to corporate counsel is that in some European countries, those lawyers are not members of the country’s bar, “and some believe this autonomy does not obligate the attorney to the same legal and professional ethics as an “independent” outside counsel.” That argument begs the question: why aren’t they allowed to be members of the bar?

To be markedly inferior to external counsel, because of the inability to protect information passed to an in-house lawyer or advice given by one, is a severe hindrance to the professional stature those in-house lawyers and their departments should enjoy.