MEET WITH GIOVANNI CERUTTI, THE ECLA REPRESENTATIVE FOR ITALIAN ASSOCIATION
“AIGI, established in 1976, is one of the founding member of ECLA and we proudly celebrate this year, 2016, the 40th anniversary”- says Giovanni. He smiles and adds: “AIGI Members are aware of ECLA especially now that the current President is Italian…! Moreover, we do have a dedicated section on AIGI website with interviews and articles on ECLA”.
“Eligibility criteria to be admitted to AIGI - Giovanni explains - include inter alia the Law Degree plus evidence of at least 2-year practice period as a lawyer. In-house lawyer mission is defined in AIGI By-Laws with the following terms: providing legal advice and support to the Employer company, in the private or public sector, and contributing to the management strategies by combining legal knowledge with managerial skills. Last but not least, AIGI members must comply with the Professional Deontology Rules set forth in AIGI Ethics Code”.
Regarding the association’s activities: AIGI has coordinated and promoted the drafting of various Books and Papers on key legal topics. Moreover, AIGI regularly organizes seminars and conferences, either independently or in cooperation with universities, law firms, public entities. “We are however very careful in evaluating and selecting events to make sure that AIGI remains independent and that an adequate level of quality is ensured”, underlines Giovanni.
Giovanni adds: “AIGI regrets that the In-House lawyer profession is not officially recognized by the legal system in Italy. Qualified In-House lawyers are not even entitled to enroll in the Bar (with some limited exceptions for In-House lawyers employed by Public Sector Organizations). AIGI is therefore very keen on affirming In-House role and position in Italy, as such role and position is already recognized by some other European Legal systems. AIGI therefore strongly objects to obsolete dogma that employment status of In-House lawyers automatically leads to their lack of professional independence in providing legal advice to the Client-Employer. This dogma looks disproportionate and unreasonable today, as proven by the comparative analysis with other professionally recognized employees (e.g. physicians)”, is Giovanni’s conclusion.
On 2013, after a multi-year long appraisal and selective process, the Italian Ministry of Justice officially inserted AIGI among nationwide leading associations of unregulated professions pursuant to Italian Law implementing Directive 2005/36/UE. “Yet, this is regrettably far away from affirming in-House lawyers role and from recognizing AIGI as an official Professional Body”, affirms Giovanni.
Giovanni finally underlines an important success story: “I am very proud because AIGI established 12 years ago the Scuola Nazionale di Specializzazione per Giuristi di Impresa (National School of Specialization for In-house lawyers) and this initiative has been growing with great success ever since. It is not a generic post-degree course among others, but it is a training path conducive to the profession, leveraging on practical cases, addressed by senior In-house lawyers acting as teachers and mentors. That aspect is very important not only for the educational program itself but also for the job opportunities generated through contacts and relations.”
On 31 March 2017 ECLA had its Annual General Assembly in Rome, where the national association AIGI acted as an excellent host. The agenda of the meeting contained its usual topics, such as the annual accounts, communication, etc. There was also an intensive discussion on the goals, aspirations and future of ECLA, for which the new President Jonathan Marsh earlier made an appeal to the national associations. The outcome of the discussions, which took place in workgroups, will form a solid basis for further discussions later in the year. Stephan Barthe (Spain) was elected as new secretary of the Executive Board. The topic of young lawyers in AIGI was presented by a young member of AIGI, followed by an interesting discussion.