Transnational Lawyering: Clients, Ethics and Regulation

LAWYERS IN PRACTICE: ETHICAL DECISION MAKING IN CONTEXT, Lynn Mather & Leslie Levin, eds., University of Chicago Press, Forthcoming

33 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2010 Last revised: 22 Nov 2015

See all articles by John Flood

John Flood

Griffith University - Griffith Law School; University College London; University of Westminster - School of Law; Centre for Blockchain Technologies

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Date Written: September 24, 2010


Transnational lawyering is essentially transactional lawyering on a bigger and more complicated scale. The scale and pace of the work leaves little time in the lawyer’s day for reflection on ethical conundrums. Lawyers have to work to tight, drop-dead deadlines because the financing arrangements in play can impose severe costs on clients if delay builds up. In addition to putting in the hours lawyers must be hunting for the next tranche of business to keep their associates and colleagues occupied. Their capacity for producing business is an integral element in their progression in the firm: their power, their remuneration. Each year they also have to face a public ranking exercise undertaken by the legal directories. The argument of this chapter is that, although transactional lawyers are aware of some ethical issues, these get scant concern in day to day practice, and are often ignored. Often rules are invoked to protect the lawyer from future attack rather than to protect clients’ interests, eg. rules on money laundering. A number of case studies (derived from observation, interviews, and documentary sources) based on takeovers, property finance transactions, and the creation of new financial products are deployed to tease out how ethics and corporate law practice intersect. A coda to this is the new development by the key frontline regulator in England and Wales to implement a virtual abandonment of conflicts of interests rules for “sophisticated” corporate clients. This raises the spectre of a new double deontology for transnational lawyers in the global field of law.

Keywords: regulation, law firms, globalization, ethics, transnational

JEL Classification: J44

Suggested Citation

Flood, John A., Transnational Lawyering: Clients, Ethics and Regulation (September 24, 2010). LAWYERS IN PRACTICE: ETHICAL DECISION MAKING IN CONTEXT, Lynn Mather & Leslie Levin, eds., University of Chicago Press, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

John A. Flood (Contact Author)

Griffith University - Griffith Law School ( email )

Nathan Campus
170 Kessels Road
Nathan 4111, Queensland


University College London ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom


University of Westminster - School of Law ( email )

4 Little Titchfield Street
London, England W1W 7UW
United Kingdom


Centre for Blockchain Technologies ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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