April 18, 2018

Lawyer well-being, former federal ethics chief headline ABA professionalism event

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2018 — A major legal conference in the nation’s capital, hosted by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability, will explore a variety of professionalism issues, including lawyer well-being, malpractice developments and third-party litigation financing.

What:              
Spring 2018 National Legal Malpractice Conference

When:             
Wednesday – Friday, April 25 – 27

Where:            
Renaissance Downtown DC
999 9th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

The conference’s opening session, National Workshop on the Advancement of Attorney Well-Being in the Law Firm Setting,” will include ABA President Hilarie Bass, who is the co-president of international law firm Greenberg Traurig. In September 2017, the ABA Board of Governors, at the request of Bass, created the ABA Presidential Working Group to Advance Well-Being in the Legal Profession, with an emphasis on helping legal employers support healthy work environments. The interactive workshop on Wednesday, April 25, is intended to create practical and workable law firm policies to reinforce lawyer well-being as a core component of the ethical obligations of competence and diligence as well as professionalism. It runs from noon to 4 p.m.

On Thursday, April 26, a plenary session will also cover issues dealing with lawyer well-being. “Lawyer Well-Being: New Responsibilities for Impaired Lawyers for Law Firms and LPL Insurers” will explore lawyers’ mental health issues and substance misuse and will focus on the findings and recommendations of the recent report issued by the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change.” The panel for the session, which runs from 10 to 11:15 a.m., includes state directors of lawyer assistance programs in Indiana and Texas as well as two representatives from legal insurers.

Walter Shaub, the director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics from early 2013 through mid-July 2017, will speak on Thursday morning as well. Shaub, who has been widely quoted during the past year regarding problems he sees in government ethics, will look at the future of his former office and how many of the attacks on governmental ethics originate inside government. His talk is from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m.

Other programs include:

·        “Spotting the Issues Associated with Third-Party Litigation Financing” — Litigation funding is a growing business as established finance companies enter the field and more firms avail themselves of the opportunity to manage litigation costs through financing. As a result, courts are beginning to pay more attention to the legal and ethical issues involved in litigation financing agreements. The panel, representing the perspectives of firms, carriers and the courts, will help lawyers understand the potential legal and ethical issues triggered in litigation financing arrangements and how to manage associated risks.
Friday, 9–10 a.m.

·        “Back to the Future: Is It Time to Consider Alternative Business Structures for Law Firms?” — Except on a limited basis in the state of Washington and the District of Columbia, non-lawyer ownership of law firms, or alternative business structures (ABS), is barred. But it is nonetheless hotly debate in legal circles. The panel will examine the various forms of ABS, including law firms with non-lawyer ownership and multi-disciplinary practice law firms that provide additional non-legal services. These exist in many international jurisdictions.

            Thursday, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

The complete conference program can be found online.

All sessions are open to the media but pre-registration is necessary. To register, please contact Bill Choyke at 202-662-1864 or bill.choyke@americanbar.org.

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