CBA Record January-February 2020
LEGAL ETHICS BY JOHN LEVIN
John Levin’s Ethics columns, which are published in each CBA Record, are now in- dexed and available online.
For more, go to http://johnlevin.info/ legalethics/.
The ChangingWorld of the Corporate Lawyer I f you go back 50 years or so, the para-
the need for economies of scale in apply- ing the technology. Service providers need a critical mass of customers to offset the cost of obtaining and managing the new technology. Customers of these services search out the best provider based on the cost and quality of the service. Thus, it is only a matter of time before there is a further consolidation among the large law firms, other advisers and con- sultants, and technology firms to create integrated institutions to meet the needs of large, complex organizations in dealing with large, complex legal problems.The “lawyer/ client relation” will continue to weaken. Someday we will look back with nostalgia at the time when the lawyer’s relationship with the corporate client was personal as well as institutional. 1345 Wiley Road, Suite 121 Schaumburg, Illinois 60173 Phone: 847-519-3600/800-844-6778 Fax: 800-946-6990 www.landexresearch.com Landex Research, Inc. PROBATE RESEARCH MISSING/UNKNOWN HEIRS LOCATED NO EXPENSE TO ESTATE Domestic & International Services for: Courts, Lawyers, Trust Officers, Administrators, Executors Looking for a Legal Job? Remember to proofread your resume and upload it toThe Chicago Bar Association so that employers can find and contact you about your next job at www.chicagobar. org (under the Career tab). You can also search through local and national job openings on the site.
weakening of the “lawyer/client relation.” The first wave of changes occurred when personalized legal services were replaced by megafirms working with large and sophis- ticated law departments. Although this now appears to be the norm, at one time the changes were seen as a threat to lawyer professionalism and were the subject of long debates in the legal ethics community. In retrospect, the debates actually revolved around the weakening of the “lawyer/client relation.” It just did not seem to be “pro- fessional” for different lawyers to show up depending upon the nature of the matter at hand. This person was only a technician dealing with a narrow problem and could not possibly understand the client’s broader issues and give advice. Inside counsel could not be relied upon to give independent advice to their employer. I can attest to this situation, having personally lived through these changes. New waves of changes have appeared that threaten the current norm. The large accounting and consulting firms, especially in Europe, added legal services to their list of offerings. Legal process outsourcing firms were established that perform a variety of individual legal tasks on an outsourced basis. Document review and discovery are now often performed by offshore service providers on a case by case basis. Temporary staffing is now available on an as needed basis. The closing of large transactions – always a big time-user – can be outsourced at a package price. The lawyer/client rela- tion has continued to weaken. But even more changes are on the way. It is hard to avoid discussions of the intru- sion of technology and artificial intelligence into the practice of law. The growth of alternative legal service providers is driven in part by the costs of new technology and
digm of the corporate lawyer was an individual professional who, with per- haps the aid of a few partners or associates, had a personal relationship with the client – often sitting on the board of directors.The “lawyer/client relation” – the interpersonal relationship between the lawyer as a person and the individuals managing the client – was very close. Even with larger corporate clients, the management often personally knew the lawyers representing the company. And a law firm of 30 or 40 lawyers was considered “big” and “impersonal.” The Rules of Professional Conduct still reflect a close relationship between the lawyer and the client. Paragraph 2 of the Preamble to the Illinois Rules of Profes- sional Conduct states: As a representative of clients, a lawyer performs various functions. As advisor, a lawyer provides a client with an informed understanding of the client’s legal rights and obligations and explains their practical implications. As advocate, a lawyer zeal- ously asserts the client’s position under the rules of the adversary system. As negotiator, a lawyer seeks a result advantageous to the client but consistent with requirements of honest dealings with others. As an evalu- ator, a lawyer acts by examining a client’s legal affairs and reporting about them to the client or to others. I have recently read a number of articles discussing the changes in the ways that legal services are provided to corporate end-users. The changes have resulted in a significant John Levin is the retired Assis- tant General Counsel of GATX Corporation and a member of the CBARecord Editorial Board.
42 January/February 2020
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