Ethics and Professional Responsibility
Second Draft of AML-Related Amendments to Model Rules Under Consideration
By Keith R. Fisher
In anticipation of the ABA Annual Meeting recently held in Chicago, two Standing Committees — on Professional Responsibility and on Professional Regulation — prepared a second discussion draft of potential amendments to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to enhance lawyers’ due diligence with respect to clients potentially engaged in money laundering and related activities. The first draft from December 2021, as previously reported, had been limited to consideration of amendments to the comments accompanying Model Rule 1.2; the current draft considers amendments to both the blackletter and the comments.
The impetus for this initiative, as noted in the prior MIB on this topic, is a resurgence of concerns about the future of self-regulation in the wake of the Corporate Transparency Act and increased pressure from the Treasury Department about combating money laundering. That pressure has increased as a result of publication in recent years of the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers, and the Pandora Papers, to say nothing of the 60 Minutes – Global Witness exposé televised a few years ago.
While the Standing Committees assert that they have not yet decided whether to present any Model Rule amendments on this topic to the House of Delegates, a more-or-less continuing campaign of pressure has for many years been mounted to yield precisely that result. Some of that history is recounted in the Committees’ second discussion draft. The Section of International Law is one of the principal proponents of AML-related changes to the Model Rules.