Recent reforms to the FATF-led international anti-money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT) regime install legal professionals as ‘gatekeepers’ by requiring them, among others, to take due diligence measures and report suspicious transactions. These reforms have generated controversy within the national and international associations of legal professionals. This chapter analyses the discourse and policy activities of legal professional associations in order to uncover the roots of the discord between legal professionals and governments regarding gatekeeping obligations. This chapter shows that underneath the official narrative that depicts lawyers’ resistance to gatekeeping as a fight for the preservation of liberal democratic values, the institutional priorities and characteristics of the profession play the key role in fueling the resistance. The chapter identifies two such institutional factors – public image and self-governance concerns of legal professionals – and highlights their distinctive implications for the implementation of AML/CFT rules by comparing them with contrasting concerns raised by other gatekeeping actors, namely bankers. The chapter illustrates that the specific institutional contexts of professional groups influence their gatekeeping role. Therefore, regulatory initiatives that enlist the services of professional actors need to take seriously and engage the institutional dimension of such actors.

legal professionals, gatekeeping, resistance, self-governance, public responsibility

Ali, N.T. (2020). Legal Professionals as Dirty Money Gatekeepers. In Assets, Crimes, and the State: Innovation in 21st Century Legal Responses (pp. 97–110). Retrieved from