From GATS to APEC: The Impact of Trade Agreements on Legal Services01 Jan 2010
This article provides a comprehensive overview of the treatment of legal services in the United States’ international trade agreements. Although many individuals are now familiar with the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), far fewer realize that legal services are included in at least fifteen international trade agreements to which the United States is a party. This article begins by identifying those trade agreements and other developments including the 2009 Legal Services Initiative of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The article continues by explaining the structure of the GATS and comparing its provisions to the provisions found in the NAFTA and in other international trade agreements. The article includes several tables that compare the structure and content of the fifteen trade agreements applicable to legal services. The fourth section of the article reviews legal services-related implementation efforts, including GATS Track #1 developments related to the Doha Round negotiations, GATS Track #2 developments regarding the development of “any necessary disciplines,” implementation efforts for other trade agreements, and developments that are indirectly related to these trade agreements. The final section of the article addresses the impact of trade agreements on U.S. lawyer regulation. It concludes that these trade agreements, which reflect larger developments in our society, have affected the vocabulary, landscape and stakeholders involved in U.S. lawyer regulation.