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October 15, 2021

Panel to discuss whether current UPL rules for lawyers continue to make sense

CHICAGO, Oct. 15, 2021 — With regulatory innovation efforts spreading throughout the country, the American Bar Association will join two national partners on Oct. 20 in the third Redesigning Legal Speaker Series to explore whether the current ABA Model Rule 5.5, which addresses the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) by lawyers, continues to serve its intended purpose.

What: Redesigning Legal: Lawyer UPL — Has It Jumped the Shark?

When: Wednesday, Oct. 20, 1-2 p.m. EDT

Where: Online

In the past, protecting the public has been the stated justification for strict jurisdictional licensing and regulation of lawyers. Yet, in the country’s multi-jurisdictional and increasingly remote practice environment, lawyers who innovate and their clients may find themselves more frequently put in the crosshairs of the existing regulatory framework. In addition, boundaries set by current Model Rule 5.5 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct on permissible multijurisdictional practice has implications for access to legal services in, for example, legal deserts – geographic areas where there are few, if any lawyers.

In the upcoming program, panelists will explore whether it is time for another evolution of Model Rule 5.5 . The participants are:

  •  Mike Kennedy, Vermont Bar Counsel since 2012. Kennedy administers Vermont’s Bar Assistance Program, which focuses on proactive guidance on issues related to the Rules of Professional Conduct and law office management. He is a former president of the Vermont Bar Association and the current chair of the Vermont Bar Association’s Pro Bono Committee.

  • Andrew Perlman, Suffolk University Law School dean since 2015. Perlman has served as the chief reporter for the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, which was responsible for updating the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in the fact of globalization and changes in technology. He subsequently served as the vice chair of the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services and the inaugural chair of the governing council of the ABA Center for Innovation.

  • Wendy Muchman, the Harry B. Reese Professor of Practice at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Muchman has primarily taught classes in professional responsibility, including the standard ABA-required course in legal ethics. Along with another lecturer, she developed and currently teaches several innovative ethics courses.

  • Lynda Shely, owner/attorney of the Shely Firm, PC, Scottsdale, Arizona. Shely provides ethics advice to more than 1,700 law firms in Arizona and the District of Columbia and assists lawyers in responding to initial bar charges, performs law office risk management reviews and trains law firm staff in ethics requirements. She is a past president of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers and current chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.

Launched in June, the Redesigning Legal Speaker Series features legal industry leaders and experts who offer a variety of perspectives and break down common assumptions and misunderstandings, as well as provide information on the nature and scope of the access to justice challenges and barriers to sustainable legal access. Other series co-sponsors are the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver (IAALS) and Legal Hackers, in addition to support from three ABA entities: the Center for Innovation, Center for Professional Responsibility and the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.

Registration is free but required in advance by clicking here. Media who would like to attend this virtual event are asked to email Kelsey Montague at IAALS at [email protected] or Bill Choyke at the ABA at [email protected].

About the sponsors:

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews).

IAALS is a national, independent research center dedicated to facilitating continuous improvement and advancing excellence in the American legal system. Our mission is to forge innovative and practical solutions to problems within the American legal system.

Legal Hackers is a global movement of lawyers, policymakers, designers, technologists and academics who explore and develop creative solutions to some of the most pressing issues at the intersection of law and technology. Through local meetups, hackathons and workshops, Legal Hackers spot issues and opportunities where technology can improve and inform the practice of law and where law, legal practice and policy can adapt to rapidly changing technology.