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It’s not always easy to be an ethical in-house lawyer, and that’s simply because the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct “are more compatible with law firm practice than in-house work,” according to Nicole Hyland, chairwoman of the Professional Ethics Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

Hyland explains that the rules reflect the traditional model of a law firm, down to the terminology employed. For instance, she says the conflict-of-interest rules deem conflict to be imputed to all other lawyers “associated in a firm.” But what does “a firm” mean for in-house counsel? In-house lawyers are “simply appended to the definition of a law firm, despite the fundamental differences between these two practice models,” which of course raises just a few questions for them and their practices.

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