February 22, 2002
John A. Holtaway, Esq.
ABA Center for Professional Responsibility
541 North Fairbanks Court, 14th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611
Re: Interim Report of the ABA Multijurisdictional Practice Commission
Dear Mr. Holtaway:
I am the General Counsel for the Chicago Bar Association ("CBA"). I write on behalf of the CBA and its Board of Managers to comment on the interim report of the ABA Multijurisdictional Practice Commission ("MJPC").
As you know, the report only became available late last year. Due to the usual year-end and holiday crush the CBA’s review of the report has been somewhat rushed and perhaps less thorough than we would have preferred. We have, however, reviewed it and I have been authorized to communicate to you our generally favorable reaction to the proposed revisions to Rule 5.5 and 8.5 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct contained in the interim report. We believe that the MJPC’s decision to suggest an approach that liberalizes somewhat the ability of lawyers to engage in cross-border practice, while retaining local control of the regulation of the legal profession, was appropriate. In general, we believe your approach will benefit clients that, for a variety of reasons, legitimately seek temporary legal services from counsel not admitted in all jurisdictions that may be related to the representation. Our favorable comments, however, have two caveats.
First, since our review has been hurried, we may want to supplement our comments later, following further study. Second, since you plan further hearings and a "final" report to be published prior to the next ABA Annual Meeting, we may wish to comment further following publication of that report.
We recognize that the MJPC considered many different suggested approaches to the multijurisdictional practice problem. We will comment on only two, other than the approach adopted by the Commission. Some surely must have suggested a strict "status quo" approach in which the rules fail to expressly legitimize any cross-border practice. We believe the MJPC wisely rejected that approach, which can often increase legal expenses unnecessarily and deprive clients of counsel of their choice with no corresponding benefit to the legal system.
MJPC also apparently rejected an even more flexible approach suggested by certain groups ( e.g., ACCA, NOBC, APRL). We assume that MJPC’s decision was based, at least in part, upon a practical assessment tied to the likelihood that various jurisdictions would or would not adopt any new ABA Model Rule as the rule in their state. That factor has, quite candidly, been factored into our review of MJPC’s proposals. Regardless of the potential merit of the broader approach–an issue on which the CBA has not taken a position–we believe the MJPC approach is more practicable at this time.
We look forward to seeing the next iteration of MJPC’s report.
Steven F. Pflaum
cc: Terrence M. Burns, CBA President
Terrence M. Murphy, CBA Executive Director
Champ W. Davis, Jr., Chair, CBA Professional Responsibility Committee
Brian J. Redding, Vice-Chair, CBA Professional Responsibility Committee