8 Pages

The International Lawyer: Extra-territorial Application of Professional Responsibility Standards

ByMilton Gwirtzman

Lawyers for many American multinational companies have participated in the creation of a variety of devices by which business profits earned abroad were returned to the United States without the required payment of taxes, and later illegally contributed to American political parties. There are probably over two hundred billion dollars worth of American assets invested in foreign countries. International trade makes up fifteen percent of the gross national product of the United States. Furthermore, by failing to reveal information about such payments to stockholders, the lawyers violated the materiality sections of the Securities and Exchange Act. Professor Hazard of Yale Law School, who was a draftsman of the ABA code of professional conduct, says it certainly should not be improper per se for a law firm to establish a trust account. Some attribute significant difference to the fact that the standards of legal ethics in foreign countries are somewhat lower than those of the United States.