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December 16, 2009

ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 Sets First Public Hearing, Seeks Comment on Issues Identified for Work Going Forward

The _ Commission on Ethics 20/20 has scheduled Feb. 5 for the first in a series of public hearings and roundtable discussions to inform its review and assessment of regulation of the legal profession in the context of globalization and advances in technology.

The hearing will convene from 1 to 3:30 p.m. in the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, Orlando, Fla., during the 2010 ABA Midyear Meeting.   While the hearing is to gather comment and suggestions responding to its Preliminary Issues Outline, the commission also encourages other comment relevant to its work.

The commission was created in August by ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm to assess any need for changes in ethical rules or professional regulation in the United States in view of accelerating innovation in technology and the increase in globalized law practice.  It is chaired by Jamie S. Gorelick of Washington, D.C., and Michael Traynor of Berkeley, Calif., and anticipates completing its work in three years.

Introducing the outline, the commission notes that “the profession faces not merely the proliferation of personal computers, e-mail, ‘smart-phone’ technology, enhanced personal digital assistants and the Internet, but the likelihood that on the horizon is a potential new or second Internet as well as technologies that cannot now be fully anticipated.”  It cites “competitive and ethical implications of U.S. lawyers and law firms seeking to represent American and foreign clients abroad and foreign lawyers seeking access to the U.S. legal market.”

Commissioners said three principles will guide their work:  protecting the public, preserving core professional values of the American legal profession and maintaining a strong, independent and self-regulated profession.  The commissioners  also point out their work will address “issues affecting the entire spectrum of legal work — from what some call ‘Big Law’ to individual, quintessentially local practice.”

The outline groups issues as arising because U.S. lawyers are regulated by states but work increasingly across state and international boarders, those growing out of technological advances that have or will enhance virtual cross-border access and those raised by changing technology.

More information about the commission, and links to the full outline and other commission resources are available by clicking here.

Hearing witnesses will be limited to 5 minute presentations, followed by 5 minute question and answer periods.  Individuals or organizations wishing to testify should contact Kimley Grant at or 312/988-5319 no later than Jan. 8.  Witnesses will be asked to submit written testimony and resource information before they testify.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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Learn More About:  EthicsMidyear Meeting 2010