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An organization representing more than 700,000 European lawyers has published guidelines for electronic ID cards for lawyers, which would ease European lawyers’ access to the courts and other institutions outside their jurisdictions. The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, or CCBE, has produced ID cards for lawyers since 1978, but has now provided a framework for member states to implement an electronic chip so the cards can be valid across country borders. Participation in the system is voluntary and it’s up to the national bar associations to implement standards for accrediting eligible lawyers, said Birgit Beger, legal adviser for the CCBE in Brussels, Belgium. “Now we have the possibility to insert a chip which would allow the national members to form a unique European system to make the card transferable,” she said. Some countries — such as Spain, Italy and France — already have cards equipped with electronic chips for lawyers but they would need to be reconfigured in order to be used across Europe, Beger said. U.S. lawyers who are barred in Europe also would be eligible to get the cards, she said. The card could immediately be used as an identification tool and a means of entering courts and prisons, and filing electronic court documents, Beger said. But there are other possibilities, she said, such as creating a network to ease electronic communications between lawyers in the European Union, she said. Aaron Schildhaus, chair-elect of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law, said such a card would be tough to implement in the United States because of individual states’ rules, but could be useful in Europe, where lawyers can practice across country borders. “I think it’s an idea that makes sense for Europe,” said Schildhaus, of the Law Offices of Aaron Schildhaus in Washington, D.C. “It would be nice if some day we could break down some of the barriers between cross-border practice here so that we could do something similar.”

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