IBA Annual Conference Miami 2022

30 Oct - 4 Nov 2022

Room 206, Level 2

Session information

Do ‘bad’ clients deserve ‘good’ lawyers?

Thursday 3 November (1615 - 1730)

Room 206, Level 2
View location
Conference area
Networking hub (Exhibition hall)
Meeting rooms
Session rooms
The full venue map is available on the delegate homepage


Regulation of Lawyers Committee (Lead)
Anti-Corruption Committee
IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit
Law Firm Management Committee
Professional Ethics Committee


The legal profession is under attack. Every day, new accusations of enabling criminal and unethical activity emerge, and calls to end self-regulation grow ever louder. 
What are we to do about this? 
So far, the profession’s response has been mixed, and even contradictory. Criminal lawyers rightly point out that it is their corporate counterparts who are the targets of most criticisms, risking a dangerous division of the profession. Others argue that even acknowledging the validity of some of these attacks will have catastrophic results, and risks opening the Pandora’s Box of lawyers becoming associated with the interests of their clients. ‘Lawyers are politically and ethically neutral figures, and should be permitted to advise their clients on any course of action so long as it is legal’ is the standard reply, but is this true? 
How unfair are the criticisms being levelled at the profession? Is it not already heavily divided? Do the profession’s core principles even apply to corporate lawyers anymore? And if corporate lawyers have become businessmen first, and legal professionals second, what does this mean in a world where big business is being increasingly regulated along ethical lines? Events are already pushing the profession in a certain direction, regardless of how much we might object: law firms have traditionally been reluctant to draw ethical lines in the sand, yet recent events in Russia and Ukraine have forced many firms to start taking an ethical stance where they might not have previously. 
Yet is the formal ethical regulation of lawyers actually possible when our profession is founded on the certainty of statute, reasoned judicial precedent, and independent regulation? Are those trying to adapt the law to ever-changing ethical standards simply giving in to cancel culture and mob rule? Or are they simply acknowledging the reality of the new world of social activism in which business, law, and all of us now operate, one which we ignore at our peril? 
This session will attempt to tackle some of these thorny issues and marks the formal start of the IBA’s broader engagement with its members on these vital questions. 

Session / Workshop Chair(s)

Nicola Bonucci , Paris, France; Member, Anti-Corruption Committee Advisory Board


Simone Cuomo CCBE, Brussels, Belgium
Daniel Koffmann Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, New York, New York, USA
Tahera Mandviwala The Bar Council of India, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; Strategy Officer, Law Firm Management Committee
Emma Oettinger Ashurst, London, England; Co-Chair, Regulation of Lawyers Committee
Desi Vlahos Australian College of Applied Professions, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Frederica Wilson Federation of Law Societies of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada