Lawyers working in Europe for a company as salaried employees in a legal department are company lawyers (except employees with legal training working in sales, HR, or finance). ‘Company lawyer’ is defined as a jurist employed as a lawyer within the legal department of a company. The terms house counsel, in-house counsel, corporate counsel, in-house lawyer, business lawyer, and juriste d’entreprise in French, are used synonymously.


Independent by Design

The White Paper “Company Lawyers: Independent by Design”, which has been co-edited by former ECLA President Philippe Coen and Prof. Christophe Roquill, contains contributions from well over 50 authors, both ECLA members and non-members, originating from some 30 countries. The paper was officially presented to the ECLA General Assembly held in Tallinn on May 30, 2014 and afterwards to various ECLA members and other legal organizations.

Code of Ethics

ECLA has a Code of Ethics, which contains common principles for the practice of company lawyers in Europe. The ECLA Code of Ethics was officially adopted by the General Assembly in Tallinn on May 30, 2014. The Code states, for example, that company lawyers acknowledge and promote the importance of the law and compliance thereof within the company or group of companies they work for and in the relations of the company with third parties.

Legal Privilege

From the start, legal professional privilege was the core issue for ECLA. It has since developed into broader discussions about the profession of company lawyers in Europe, attributes of this profession, and best practices for company lawyers in Europe. But legal professional privilege, or to put it in better and more general terms: the freedom of choice of qualified counsel for CEOs of all European industries, remains an important part of ECLA´s work.