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ACC Supports Petition to Protect In-house Counsel Independence in Germany

Posted: Jun 12, 2014

WASHINGTON (12 June 2014) — The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), a global bar association representing more than 33,000 in-house counsel in 85 countries, joined by its European Chapter, encourages the legal community in Germany to support efforts and a petition with the German Bundestag to correct an erroneous decision of the Federal Social Court, which found that in-house lawyers are not independent members of the bar and therefore must participate in the state pension system, rather than the more beneficial bar association pensions.

ACC argues that the Court's decision affects the status of in-house lawyers in Germany by forcing them into the state pension system. It also maintains that the decision is mistakenly based on an asserted lack of independence of in-house counsel.

"In-house lawyers retain the same independence as other lawyers in Germany and therefore should be able to participate in the same pension systems," said Amar D. Sarwal, ACC vice president and chief legal strategist. "Instead, by forcing them to use the state pension system, the Federal Social Court's mistaken decision treats in-house lawyers as second-class citizens in the German bar."

More than 10,000 German in-house counsel and citizens have signed the petition as of 10 June 2014. According to the public appeal, "In making this decision to treat corporate lawyers differently from other lawyers, the Court mistakenly reasoned that company lawyers were less independent than their outside counterparts. The consequences of this erroneous decision are enormous."

"As a German in-house lawyer, I am as independent as my law firm colleagues," said Sabine Brumme, chief counsel IP/Alliances for BearingPoint Service GmbH. "Like my law firm colleagues, I provide legal advice to the organization, not to any particular employee or executive, and strive to meet the highest ethical standards."

In its message, ACC argues, "In addition to reinforcing the notion that company lawyers are not as independent as outside lawyers, the decision will make it more difficult for companies to attract new lawyers and for current company lawyers to change positions (current pensions are exempted from this new requirement)."

The deadline for signatures is Thursday, 19 June 2014. All German citizens, including corporate counsel, outside counsel, family members and colleagues, are encouraged to sign-on. To sign the petition, visit https://epetitionen.bundestag.de/content/petitionen/_2014/_05/_13/Petition_52222.html.

Further information is available at this link: http://advocacy.acc.com/2014/06/sign-german-petition-to-protect-in-house-counsel/.

About ACC Europe: The Association of Corporate Counsel Europe (ACC Europe) serves the needs of lawyers practising in corporations and other organisations throughout Europe. ACC Europe, with more than 2000 members, promotes the common interests of its members, contributes to their continuing legal education and seeks to improve the understanding of the role of in-house counsel. ACC Europe is a chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), which since its founding in 1982 has grown to more than 33,000 members in 85 countries. Internationally, its members represent 42 of the Global 50 and 73 of the Global 100 companies. ACC members in Europe are also members of ACC. Additional information about ACC Europe can be found at www.acce.com. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel®.

About ACC: The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global bar association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other private-sector organizations through information, education, networking opportunities and advocacy initiatives. With more than 33,000 members in 85 countries, employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel.® For more information, visit www.acc.com and follow ACC on Twitter: @ACCinhouse.

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