The American Bar Association’s Commission on Ethics 20/20, the group commissioned in 2009 by then ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm, to thoroughly review the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and to make necessary recommendations to revise those rules as they apply to the evolution of the legal profession as it relates to advances in technology and the globalization of the practice, has concluded its work and has made significant recommendations for revisions to the Model Rules.
The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 met at the ABA 2013 Mid-year meeting in Dallas, Texas in early February and the Commission successfully rallied support for sponsorship for four of its Resolutions (including support from the Young Lawyers Division for the Resolutions involving foreign lawyers). As a result of the support as evidenced by several co-sponsorships, the ABA House of Delegates on February 11, 2013, adopted all four of the Commission’s final Resolutions. Three of those Resolutions involved a highly controversial issue – the limited practice authority for inbound foreign lawyers to practice in the United States. The Resolutions are:
Resolution Revised 107A now amends Rule 5.5(d) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law) to permit foreign lawyers to serve as in-house counsel in the U.S., but with the added requirement that foreign lawyers not advise on U.S. law except in consultation with a U.S.-licensed lawyer;
Resolution Revised 107B now amends the ABA Model Rule for Registration of In-House Counsel to permit foreign lawyers to serve as in-house counsel in the U.S. but with added requirements ;
Resolution 107C now amends the ABA Model Rule on Pro Hac Vice Admission to provide judges with guidance about whether to grant limited and temporary practice authority to foreign lawyers to appear in U.S. courts; and
Resolution 107D amends the Comment to ABA Model Rule 8.5 to permit lawyers and clients to agree which conflict of interest rules govern the representation.
Congratulations to the Commission for three years of hard work which resulted in phenomenal changes to the rules which governs our conduct. The Commission, in its earlier Resolutions to the House which are now adopted as of August 2012, recommended several changes as they relate to technology and now has addressed the globalization of the practice which will now allow for lawyers to provide more services to clients whose needs may not be limited to our jurisdictional borders.
How does this effect Maryland? We shall soon see if our court adopts similar provisions in the Maryland Lawyers’ Rule of Professional Conduct.
Dolores Dorsainvil is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Office of Bar Counsel and is an Adjunct Professor of Law at American University’s Washington College of Law where she teaches Legal Ethics.
Filed under: Career, Ethics Opinions, practice management, professionalism, Working with Clients Tagged: | ABA, amendments, choice of law, Ethics 20/20, foreign lawyers, Resolutions, rules of professional conduct