Cross-border bankruptcy as a model for the regulation of international attorneys

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In 1951, the young Detlev Vagts began working as a lawyer in the Paris office of New York firm Cahill, Gordon & Reindel. Although an American lawyer in Paris would hardly be remarkable today, Vagts' position was extraordinary for its time. Back then, law practice was a predominantly local affair. There was no such thing as a global law firm, and even the largest US firms would be considered minuscule in comparison with today's behemoths. The firms of yesteryear ventured overseas only haltingly, and usually in response to a specific client need rather than as part of a larger mission to establish a global practice. Cahill was one of the very few law firms that had a Paris outpost ‘manned’ by a few lawyers. The most obvious candidates for these overseas postings were lawyers like Vagts, whose personal background included links to foreign jurisdictions. As Vagts recalls, in the early days of his Paris practice there were no fax machines, let alone internet connections. Transnational phone calls often relied on unstable radio-based connections, and transatlantic flights still had a sense of adventure to them. These technological obstacles limited the internationalisation of law firms, but they also rendered law practice less frenzied and more genteel. Before the arrival of overnight services by FedEx and DHL, as Vagts recalls, an attorney could sigh with relief as he sent off a professional communication by ‘special airmail’, knowing that no response could possibly be received back for at least a week.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMaking Transnational Law Work in the Global Economy
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honour of Detlev Vagts
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780511675881
ISBN (Print)9780521192521
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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