The General Agreement on Trade in Service calls for members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to further liberalize and expand opportunities for international trade in services. With legal services included in this mandate, requests for specific commitments and offers have been made by WTO Member States. While services as components of international trade is new to many of the WTO Member States, free movement of services has been addressed by the European Union (EU) since the inception of the European Economic Community. Thus EU directives, declarations, codes and case law serve as valuable resources to WTO Member States as they seek to liberalize the provision of legal services.
Within the EU, lawyers from EU Member States can work temporarily or permanently in another EU Member State by complying with the provisions of the Lawyers' Services Directive or the Lawyers' Establishment Directive. The EU, however, proposes handling cross-border practice with lawyers from non-EU Member states who are WTO members through Foreign Legal Consultant recognition, something considerably more restrictive than what is accorded lawyers from EU Member States. In that the EU is looked to as a leader in facilitating the provision of legal services, it seems the EU is missing an opportunity to shape the globabilization of the legal profession by further expanding liberalization opportunities for international trade in legal services.
Louise L. Hill,
Services as Objects of International Trade: Bartering the Legal Profession,
39 Vanderbilt Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/vjtl/vol39/iss2/2