[NOTE: Updated on 14 January 2010 to link to the public comments received by the commission.]
Comments are invited (please scroll down), with submission deadline of 31 December 2009, on the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 Preliminary Issues Outline.
The Commission’s charge is to “perform a thorough review of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the U.S. system of lawyer regulation in the context of advances in technology and global legal practice developments. Our challenge is to study these issues and, with 20/20 vision, propose policy recommendations that will allow lawyers to better serve their clients, the courts and the public now and well into the future.”
Please email comments about the outline to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send questions to Commission Counsel Ellyn S. Rosen at email@example.com. Click here to join the Commission’s listserv.
Legal informatics researchers may be interested to note that the outline covers many of the key issues concerning the role of technology in legal practice.
Among the topics addressed in the outline are:
- Multijurisdictional practice;
- Outsourcing of legal services;
- Conflicts of interest;
- Confidential information: different rules applicable in different jurisdictions; the impact of privacy and data protection laws;
- Choice of law;
- Alternative business structures for law firms: nonlawyer owners or managers, multidisciplinary practices, publicly traded firms, etc.;
- Regulation of law firms as well as individual lawyers, and whether lawyer/law firm regulation should be more proactive;
- International arbitration;
- Issues related to technology:
- Whether current legal ethics rules inhibit technology-enabled multijurisdictional practice;
- Virtual law firms;
- Regulation of legal advice respecting law that is uniform throughout the U.S.;
- Lawyers’ use of social networking technology;
- Unbundling of legal services;
- Opensourcing of legal services;
- Online sharing of work product (i.e., “peer to peer”);
- Lawyer accountability, and transparency of information respecting lawyer regulation: providing free online access to information about public lawyer regulatory actions; lawyer rating services; access to information about regulatory actions related to non-U.S. lawyers;
- The rule of technology in access to justice;
- Technology and lawyer competence;
- Technology and inadvertent disclosure of privileged/confidential information: especially in connection with cloud computing;
- Technology and data retention;
- Protection of clients from effects of lawyers’ inappropriate use of technology, including social media;
- Technology and lawyers’ exposure to regulation by jurisdictions in which lawyers do not wish to practice.