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Written Materials Submitted In Connection With Comments Of The Young Lawyers’ Division’s Special Committee On The Future Of The Profession - Center for Professional Responsibility

Written Materials Submitted In Connection With
Comments Of The Young Lawyers’ Division’s
Special Committee On The Future Of The Profession
To the American Bar Association’s
Commission On The Multijurisdictional Practice Of Law
Friday, February 16, 2001 at 10:00 a.m.
American Bar Association Midyear Meeting
San Diego, California

        The Young Lawyers’ Division’s Special Committee on the Future of the Profession ("the Committee") thanks the Commission on the Multijurisdictional Practice of Law ("the Commission") for the opportunity to comment upon some of the issues the Committee and the Commission are studying. Over the past few months, the Committee has begun looking at how the multijurisdictional practice of law affects the legal profession in general, and young lawyers in particular. Our inquiry has raised more questions than it has answered, and we believe that a thorough study of these questions will take many months to complete.

        While we believe that many of the questions that the Commission is examining already are extremely important, and of interest to young lawyers, there are several issues and concerns that we believe are somewhat unique to young lawyers which are worthy of the Commission’s attention, or which deserve to be highlighted for the Commission’s consideration. Foremost among these are the following questions:

How do we best serve the interests of our clients?

        There are two common schools of thought regarding the potential evils created by the multijurisdictional practice of law. The first suggests that the multijurisdictional practice of law constitutes the unauthorized practice of law, and the second suggests that the real evil is the disservice that the multijurisdictional practice of law may do to clients’ interests.

        On a going forward basis, we as a profession need to decide whether our concerns with the multijurisdictional practice of law derive from our desire to protect our clients against malpractice created by an unfamiliarity with local laws, rules and procedures; from our desire to protect the sanctity of our bars’ ability to police themselves; or from a combination of both. That decision is at the crux of the debate about what changes, if any, are required to the model rules of professional conduct.

Should different standards regarding multijurisdictional practice apply for different types of legal services?

        The Young Lawyers’ Division has a number of members who presently serve in the United States military. Most of these attorneys are transferred regularly from base to base and from state to state. Certain states that have large military installations have implemented standards allowing attorneys in the military to practice in those states for purposes of providing military legal assistance without becoming admitted to the bars of those states. These standards present several interesting questions:

  • Should these standards exist?
  • Should other states be encouraged to adopt similar standards for attorneys serving in the military?
  • Should these standards be applied to other types of legal services?
  • If so, for what types of legal services and under what conditions?

Is multijurisdictional practice a national or a global issue?

        As more and more companies merge and consolidate to become part of global conglomerates, what impact, if any, does this have on individuals providing legal services to these companies? There are many issues that attorneys must face in handling matters for such conglomerates, including:

  • Differences in language and legal interpretation that prevent creation of a unified body of international law and that preclude uniform application of multinational treaties;
  • Cultural disparities regarding the application of law, the role of law in society, and the roles of attorneys; and
  • Different levels of recognition for in-house counsel.

        While these issues are not pounding at our doors at the present time, the reality is that our global economy will soon place them there. If we do not address these questions now, we will be forced to do so in the near future.

        The Committee believes that these issues, along with the issues already highlighted by the Commission, must be addressed before any decisive action can be taken with respect to amending the model rules. The Committee will be studying these issues in the coming months, and hopes that the Commission will do so as well.

        Thank you for the opportunity to present our thoughts and comments to you at this time, and we hope that the Committee and the Commission will be able to work closely to find answers to these important questions.