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Lawyer Mobility - A Value or a Threat? (Program)

Anthony Davis, Lawyers for the Profession(R) practice group at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP and Lecturer in Law at Columbia University Law School (US) (Moderator); Caroline Hart, University of South Queensland (Australia); Steven Vaughan, University of Birmingham (UK); Emily Carroll, University of Birmingham (UK); Darrel Pink, Nova Scotia Barristers' Society (Canada); and Carol Needham, Saint Louis University School of Law (US)

Lawyer Mobility - A Value or a Threat?

Restrictions on the mobility of lawyers impede the ability of clients to engage lawyers of their own choosing, add to the expense of obtaining legal advice and frequently delay the delivery of needed legal services. Jurisdictions vary widely in the degree to which, on the one hand, they encourage, permit or support anti-competitive rules that limit freedom of movement by lawyers as much as possible or, on the other hand, the methods used in other places to support, permit or encourage mobility. This panel will contrast the regulatory regimes in place in Canada, Australia, and the European Union - all of which are at a minimum permissive of mobility - with the state-by-state regulation of lawyers in the United States, which has resulted in the continuation of almost uniform and comprehensive limitations on lawyer mobility. The panel will discuss the relative value of these contrasting policies for clients and for the legal profession.

Steven Vaughan and Emily Carroll: Transaction Mills? The 'Dirty Work' of Legal Services Onshoring

Increasing competition for work, law firm expansion via globalization and sophisticated clients seeking 'more for less' from their outside counsel have forced law firms to think about how they manage their work. These drivers have seen, for example, large law firms turn to legal process outsourcing to reduce costs. In the UK, something else is also happening. Global English law firms, who previously only ever had London offices in the UK, have started to open up other 'onshored' UK offices outside of London. Some of these offices undertake business support functions (IT, HR etc.); others employ local lawyers to perform the repetitive, lower profile, less prestigious work that has become unprofitable for London lawyers. These shifts in law firm organization reflect: (i) ongoing changes to the nature of legal work and legal professionalism – a move from a guild like institution to a capitalist service industry; and (ii) speak to wider social changes in the nature of post-recession employment and to the practical substantiation of a two tier, North/South, London/regions divide. We draw on 25 interviews with lawyers drawn from every onshored office currently open in the UK to frame these changes in the nature of legal work using the sociological phenomenon of 'dirty work', and ask whether the work done by onshored lawyers is simply that which the London lawyers of the same firm feel is too 'dirty' for them to do. As such, these onshored offices may become (to borrow and adapt a phrase from Nora Engstrom) transaction mills.

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