Spiralling intake in the US

THE SPIRALLING intake of people into the US legal profession has generated economic incentives which have “demeaned” the practice of law and caused the profession to lose sight of its objectives, a former American Corporate Counsel Association (ACCA) chair has said.

Carl Liggio, now a partner in Chicago firm Dickinson, Wright, Moon, Van Dusen & Freeman, told delegates at last week's conference of the ACCA European chapter that his view of the profession was “not particularly positive”.

“I have some serious reservations about our profession as a whole,” said Liggio. “We have to make sure that as a profession we maintain our moral stance and frankly, I don't see that happening.”

Liggio was among a line-up of speakers addressing the issue of conflicting interests faced by in-house lawyers.

The conference heard that lawyers often had ethical difficulties in acting as the “corporate conscience” of a company, while helping management achieve commercial objectives.

“It's the classic conundrum for the in-house lawyer,” said Liggio. “How to tell management 'no' without creating a barrier to effective relationships in the future.

“It doesn't always work, but the key is to try and present an alternative to the management. Be proactive in giving management ways to accomplish what they want.”