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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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ACC considers modifications to the rules unnecessary to address concerns cited by the Rules Committee

WASHINGTON (July 1, 2019) – The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), a global legal association representing more than 45,000 in-house counsel employed by over 10,000 organizations in 85 countries, has filed a recommendation to the District of Columbia (DC) Bar not to change the rules of professional conduct to address perceived problems pertaining to outside counsel guidelines (OCGs). ACC considers modifications to the rules unnecessary to address concerns cited by the Rules Committee.

In May, the DC Bar’ Rules Committee opened a public consultation on the subject of OCGs. The Committee is weighing the question of whether to regulate the extent to which clients may contractually require lawyers to engage or refrain from certain conduct or practices. These practices may include expanding the scope of conflicts of interests or indemnification clauses. The consultation notes that such OCG terms might overreach and unduly restrict the public’s access to counsel and impair lawyer independence.

ACC, joined by its National Capital Region chapter, advised against any changes to the rules to address these concerns. ACC holds that best way to address OCG concerns is through direct dialogue between outside counsel and their clients. Moreover, outside counsel already have the right to refuse terms that they feel are overly restrictive or potentially violate rules of professional conduct. Further regulation on this question is unnecessary.

“We appreciate that the Committee opened a consultation before proposing any changes to the rules, as many of our members rely on outside counsel guidelines to help effectively manage their relationship with outside counsel,” said Mary Blatch, associate general counsel and director of advocacy at ACC. “But Occam’s Razor may be the best precedent here. Changes to the rules are not necessary to address the problems noted by the Committee. They would complicate, rather than clarify, the delicate relationships of outside counsel with their clients.”

ACC’s complete statement is available here.

About ACC: The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global legal association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other organizations through information, education, networking opportunities and advocacy initiatives. With more than 45,000 members employed by over 10,000 organizations in 85 countries, 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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