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Codes of Business Conduct and what in-house counsel can accept as gifts or business entertainment

Many Codes of Business Conduct lay out ground rules that limit what employees, including lawyers, can accept from outside business contacts, such as law firm partners or vendors wooing them for business (See my post of Nov. 5, 2007: law-firm marketing with 8 references.) . One Code states: “You may accept an occasional invitation from an outside business contact if the event or function is an opportunity for you to have a substantive business discussion or otherwise conduct [company] business and the cost does not exceed U.S. $100.00. The business contact must attend the function “or the invitation falls into the standard for receipt of gifts.”

As for receipt of gifts, the Code continues, “You must not accept any gift or gratuity in connection with your position at [company] unless it is given solely as a matter of custom or courtesy and has a value of U.S. $100 or less.”

When law firms wine and dine in-house lawyers, invite them to ballets and bull-fights, or send fruit baskets at holidays, those lawyers have to be mindful of the restrictions placed on them by a code of business conduct (See my post of Feb. 20, 2009: Codes of Conduct with 5 references.).