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May 24, 2022

ABA ethics meeting in Baltimore to tackle UPL, other timely professional issues

CHICAGO, May 24, 2022 — The American Bar Association will hold its 47th ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility on June 2-3 in Baltimore, Maryland, with an array of programs focusing on new ideas to regulate legal services, including unauthorized practice of law (UPL), racial disproportionality in the lawyer discipline system and the morality of lawyering in evil regimes.

47th National Conference on Professional Responsibility
Sponsored by the ABA  Center for Professional Responsibility

Thursday-Friday, June 2-3 (all times EDT)

Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor
300 Light St.
Baltimore, MD 21202

The conference, which returns to an in-person format for the first time since 2019, is the preeminent educational and networking opportunity in the field of legal ethics and professional responsibility. Leading experts, scholars and practitioners from across the country will address trends and developments in legal ethics, professional discipline, risk management, professionalism and practice issues. It will overlap with the ABA National Forum on Client Protection on June 3-4, also at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor.

The conference’s opening panel is timely, particularly as U.S. law firms have been forced to decide whether to shutter their practices in Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. “Lesser-Evilism or Quitting: The Morality of Lawyering in Evil Regimes” explores the moral obligations of lawyers practicing in abhorrent regimes. Georgetown Law Center professor David Luban, a nationally known legal ethicist, will use the personal histories of two German lawyers who served in the German government during the Third Reich as a vehicle to discuss real-world examples of when morality meets lawyering. The session will be Thursday, from 9-10:20 a.m., in Constellation A & B, 2nd Floor.

Other programs include:

  • “Exploring New Models of Legal Services Regulation: What Makes Sense in Our Changing World?” With unprecedented attention being paid to legal regulation, the panel will consider recent initiatives that address what modern public interest legal regulation should involve. Topics include what makes a modern regulator and whether and how to develop regulation that has a focus on such areas as the public interest, risk in regulatory decision making and ensuring effective public involvement in governance and transparency.
    Thursday, 2-3:20 p.m., Constellation C - F, 2nd Floor
  • “Assessing and Responding to Racial Disproportionality in the Discipline System” In 2019, the State Bar of California studied whether there is a disproportionate number of nonwhite lawyers disciplined over the previous 19 years. The study concluded that the percentage of disciplined Black male lawyers was more than three times that of white male lawyers, with smaller differences for Latino males and Black and Latino females. The study also identified such factors as previous discipline history, particularly the number of past complaints and investigations. This program will take a deep dive into the results.
    Friday, 2-3:20 p.m. Constellation A & B, 2nd floor
  • True or False?  A Prosecutor is a Minister of Justice” — The proposition that a prosecutor’s duties are to seek justice, not merely convict, is established in case law and the canons, code and rules of professional conduct. When prosecutors fail to honor this duty, repercussions are often serious. The panel will explore issues related to prosecutorial misconduct, and the pressures to convict, sloppiness in investigations and lack of proper supervision.
    Friday, 2-3:20 p.m., Constellation C - F, 2nd Floor
  • “Whither Thou Goest, Will UPL Follow? (Re-conceptualizing UPL)” — Historically, UPL has been geographically based. That is changing, as the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers are reviewing Model Rule 5.5 and state bar entities are making changes in authorizing remote practices. The panel will focus on multiple issues dealing with UPL and examine whether there should be distinctions between lawyers and nonlawyers.
    Friday, 3:40-5 p.m., Constellation A & B, 2nd floor

Two awards will also be given during the conference, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 2

Lucian T. Pera will receive the 2022 Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award. A partner at Adams and Reese LLP in Memphis, Tennessee, Pera is one of the nation’s leading legal ethics and professional responsibility practitioners. The award, the ABA’s highest ethics honor, is named in honor of Michael Franck, the late director of the State Bar of Michigan and longtime champion of improvements in lawyer regulation in the public interest.

G.C. Murray II of Florida will receive the 2022 Rosner & Rosner Young Lawyer Professionalism Award. The award recognizes young lawyers who are dedicated to lawyer professionalism and honors those who have demonstrated an interest in and commitment to areas such as legal and judicial ethics, lawyer professionalism, client protection and professional regulation. Murray is the youngest chair of The Florida Bar Code and Rules of Evidence Committee, the youngest Fellow of the Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Leadership Academy, and one of the youngest to receive the Designated Professional Lobbyist (DPL)

A complete conference agenda can be found online.

The CPR is the national leader in developing and interpreting standards and scholarly resources in legal and judicial ethics, professional regulation, professionalism and client protection. Its many publications provide up-to-date information and analysis regarding lawyer and judicial ethics and regulation. Also, the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issues a series of formal opinions to help guide lawyers and judges.

All sessions are open to the media, but reporters are required to register in advance by noon EDT, Tuesday, May 31, by contacting Bill Choyke at [email protected]. All attendees must provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the start of the meeting. Once you have requested registration, confirmation will be sent to you by email.

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.