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Ethics: The Ethics of Global Litigation

In a high-profile ruling last year, a New York federal judge restrained Ecuadorian plaintiffs from enforcing a multibillion-dollar judgment obtained in Ecuador against Chevron Corporation. The district judge found that the plaintiffs’ U.S. and Ecuadorian lawyers had engaged in fraudulent conduct, and he rejected their “‘this-is-the-way-it-is-done-in-Ecuador’ excuses.” Chevron Corp. v. Donziger, 974 F. Supp. 2d 362, 385–86 (S.D.N.Y. 2014). Regardless of the norms of foreign litigation, the judge found, U.S. litigators who work abroad must conform their professional conduct to basic U.S. legal norms.