Ethics Guidelines, Human Trafficking and Unbundling of Legal Services Among Resolutions Up for Debate at ABA Midyear Meeting In Dallas

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 29, 2013 — Policy resolutions relating to foreign lawyers, human trafficking victims and the unbundling of legal services are expected to be debated when the _’s House of Delegates meets as part of the association’s Midyear Meeting Feb. 6-11 in Dallas.

The ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 is bringing four resolutions to the House of Delegates as a result of increased globalization and technological advancements. In order to keep up with those changes, the commission is recommending changes to the following ABA policies:

Resolution 107A would amend Rule 5.5(d) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law) to permit limited practice authority for foreign lawyers to serve as in-house counsel in the United States, but not advise on the law of a U.S. jurisdiction except in consultation with a U.S.-licensed lawyer. A complementing resolution, 107B, would provide a mechanism to implement the limited practice authority in Resolution 107A through amendments to the 2008 Model Rule for Registration of In-House Counsel. Resolution 107B contains additional restrictions on the foreign in-house lawyer’s scope of practice as well as added requirements including payment of bar dues, payment into the client protection fund, fulfillment of continuing legal education requirements and notification to disciplinary counsel.

Resolution 107C seeks to amend the Model Rule on Pro Hac Vice Admission to provide judges with guidance about whether to grant limited, temporary and supervised practice authority to foreign lawyers to appear in U.S. courts, consistent with the rules of the U.S. Supreme Court, numerous federal courts and at least 15 U.S. states. Finally, resolution 107D proposes adding language to Model Rule 8.5 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct concerning choice of law, to allow lawyers and clients to specify a particular jurisdiction’s conflict of interest rules for purposes of determining the “predominant effect” of a lawyer’s conduct.

Across America, there are hundreds of thousands of human trafficking victims, suffering from unspeakable atrocities, unable or unwilling to seek out help due to fear of abuse, threats to their loved ones or financial obligations. A series of resolutions, 104F, G, H and I, would encourage the creation of policies whereby victims of human trafficking not be prosecuted for crimes committed in conjunction with the trafficking; whereby victims are able to assert an affirmative defense of being a human trafficking victim; whereby victims are permitted to seek to vacate criminal convictions involving prostitution and other nonviolence crimes that are a direct result of the trafficking; and whereby bar associations are urged to develop more training programs to help identify trafficking victims.

A growing number of people are forgoing the assistance of a lawyer when confronted with civil issues and are addressing their matters through self-representation. Lawyers who provide some of their services in a limited scope facilitate greater access to competent legal services. Resolution 108 encourages practitioners to consider limiting the scope of their representation, when appropriate, as a means of increasing access to legal services.

Additional resolutions expected to be debated include:

  • 104E, urging jurisdictions to ensure that defense counsel investigate a juvenile defendant’s immigration status and inform the defendant of possible collateral consequences;
  • 104A, urging Congress to establish an independent Center for Indigent Defense Services to assist states and other governments with their constitutional obligation to provide effective assistance of counsel for the defense of accused indigents;
  • 104B, urging governments to review mandatory reporting laws in instances of child abuse or neglect to determine what changes are appropriate, if any, to better protect children and to provide appropriate sanctions;
  • 102B, approving the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws; and
  • 110B, supporting disclosure of political and campaign spending, and urging Congress to require organizations not required by current law to disclose the source of their funds used for electioneering communications and independent expenditures.

All resolutions currently filed can be found here. No proposal constitutes association policy unless and until the House of Delegates adopts it. Some offerings may be withdrawn, while other measures may be submitted. Any measure can be amended until it is taken to a vote.

Visit abanow.org for updates on meeting programs, highlights, speakers and events. The status of resolutions will be updated in real time as the House acts on them.

As always, accredited reporters are welcome to cover the meeting at no charge.

Online registration for news reporters is easier than ever. Reporters who register in advance may pick up their media badges at the main registration area located at the Hilton Anatole, Lobby Level, Atrium II, beginning at 2 p.m. Feb. 6. On-site registrants may obtain their press credentials in the same area after 9 a.m. on Feb. 7.

A press room for accredited reporters will be provided at the Khmer Ballroom on the third level of the Hilton Anatole, starting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 7.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organizations.  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.