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Celebrate Freedom, Hug a Lawyer

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“I have gone to jail for what I have said.” That’s what I was recently told by a lawyer from another country when he received a call from a reporter asking him to comment on a recent decision from one of his country’s courts. When I asked him how careful he had to be with what he said, he described his time spent in jail for statements he has made.

At that moment, I realized how fortunate American lawyers — and Americans generally — are. While I may occasionally annoy someone who disagrees with me, I never worry that I might be sent to jail for something I say in a blog post. The same cannot be said for lawyers in other parts of the world.

That’s not to say that the American legal system is perfect. Many lawyers in other countries have been critical of how the U.S. government has recently handled immigrants with children who have sought asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. As the debate over U.S. immigration policy continues, American lawyers — of all political stripes — have volunteered their time to ensure that immigrants are treated according to our rule of law. And it is because of America’s rule of law, and traditional respect for its legal structure, that these lawyers are able to advocate for their clients without fear of being prosecuted by their government.

I leave you with two thoughts. First, for those of you who hire lawyers in countries where the rule of law is under attack, I encourage you to recognize and appreciate the difficult circumstances under which those attorneys must practice. Second, if you do business in countries where human rights are threatened by attacks on the rule of law, be a good example to your hosts and treat your local workers with the same respect as you do in the U.S. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Fourth of July.

This information is provided by Vinson & Elkins LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.