Baker & McKenzie (B&M) partner Stewart Saxe has been forced to resign from his position on the board of Canadian pharmaceutical company Draxis Health after B&M tightened its corporate governance rules.

Since long before most lawyers had even heard of messrs Sarbanes and Oxley, the firm has had a rule in place that required its lawyers to seek consent from the firm’s professional responsibility and practice committee in order to sit on the board of a for-profit company. Now that rule has hardened and directorships are no longer tolerated.

“I think Enron was a watershed event for many different reasons. Although we were already well along the road in stopping lawyers from sitting on the boards of for-profit companies, now standards have tightened in Baker & McKenzie,” commented Saxe.

Saxe had sat on the board of Draxis Health for 17 years. As a labour and employment lawyer, he has advised the company on the implementation of its corporate governance and employee relations policies.

Lawyers from around B&M’s international network sit on the professional responsibility and practice committee, which decides all of the firm’s conflict rules.