American attorneys practicing in Brussels/Belgium do not have to switch from employee to independent status
Why is this antitrust-relevant? Because many U.S. antitrust/competition lawyers practice in Brussels and become members of the so-called Brussels bar “B-List,” or “liste B”…
This piece of news may (1) not be news to some, but is relevant (2) to all who may be directly or indirectly affected by various Brussels bar rules (e.g., as hiring partners considering hiring U.S. attorneys for their BRX office, or directly as American associates or of-counsel etc. moving abroad):
The [perceived] Belgian prohibition against attorneys having an “employee” status in a law firm – and hence the important, although implicit, requirement that all associates or other non-partner lawyers must be so-called “independents” under Belgian bar rules – does not exist for American lawyers practicing in Belgium.
As long as you are an “American attorney” member of either the E- or B-lists of the BRX bar, you can actually be an employee: See para. 5 of Art. 6 in Annex 9 (“CONVENTION CONCLUE AVEC L’AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION LE 6 AOÛT 1994”) to the Recueil des règles professionnelles (www.barreaudebruxelles.be/pdf/brochures/recueil2010.pdf), copied below (– let me know if you interpret this differently).
Article 6 : CONDUITE ET PRIVILÈGES
5. L’indépendance des avocats américains étant garantie par les règles professionnelles qui leur sont applicables comme membre des barreaux des Etats-Unis, il ne leur sera pas interdit, par le fait de l’inscription à l’une des listes des avocats étrangers ou pour d’autres motifs, d’avoir le statut d’employé dans un cabinet ou une association.
This may have implications for all U.S. firms hiring or moving American associates or of-counsel to their Brussels location. Previously, as I have understood past practice, firms have required their U.S. non-partner attorneys to become ‘independents’ under the Brussels bar rules, which may be a wholly unnecessary (and HR-costly) step.
If you have questions, e-mail me.