Message from the Co-Chairs

Message from Commission on Ethics 20/20 Co-Chairs Jamie S. Gorelick and Michael Traynor

Welcome to the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 web site. ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm created the Ethics 20/20 Commission 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 over the next several years 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. We look forward to engaging in this exciting, challenging, and important undertaking.

Within the last ten years, technological advances and globalization have impacted lawyers’ relationships with clients and among themselves. U.S. lawyers and law firms are engaged in efforts to increase their access to the legal services markets of other countries, while lawyers from other countries are seeking increased access to the U.S. legal services market. Because of the significant number of U.S. lawyers and law firms with offices and clients abroad, practice and regulatory developments in other countries have practical, ethical, and regulatory implications that require consideration. U.S. ethics rules pose challenges to lawyers and law firms from other countries too, raising choice of law and other issues.

Clients and their legal needs have evolved. Lawyers can now serve clients ranging from individuals, to multi-state and multinational corporations in both civil and criminal situations and inside and outside U.S. borders. Representing clients in cross-border and international transactions and litigation challenges lawyers and their clients in new ways. Clients also face new vulnerabilities when they obtain legal forms and documents via the internet that may not have been drafted in the U.S. or by lawyers, and that are not tailored to their particular legal needs.

The Commission members represent a broad spectrum of expertise in U.S. and global ethics rules, lawyer regulation, globalization, and technology. They come from all segments of the legal profession. Our work will be guided by three principles: protecting the public, preserving the profession’s core values, and maintaining a strong, independent, and self-regulating legal profession.

The process by which the Commission conducts its work is open and transparent. We will provide all who are interested with opportunities to present their perspectives to the Commission. This web site is one tool by which you can provide your input and learn more about the Commission’s work, global legal practice developments and advances in technology that impact the legal profession and clients. We have also created a list serve that you can sign up for and receive periodic updates on the issues being presented to the Commission and its responses, notices of the Commission’s meetings, public hearings, and educational programs, and ultimately its draft proposals for comment. We value the views and expertise of the many and diverse individuals and entities who can contribute to our work as it moves forward.

The Commission expects its work to take three years.

  • Year one will consist of research, outreach, and analysis of information regarding critical issues identified in each of the three major subject areas;
  • Year two will focus on development of proposed policies, principles and, if necessary, model rules for wide circulation and comment; and
  • Year three will involve continued vetting of proposals and presentation to the ABA House of Delegates.