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January 30, 2023 Top Legal News of the Week

Lawyer privilege, legal ed issues top ABA House agenda

The American Bar Association House of Delegates convenes Monday, Feb. 6 in New Orleans on the final day of the ABA 2023 Midyear Meeting with about 30 items on the agenda, including resolutions dealing with a complex attorney-client topic known as “beneficial ownership” and a proposal to eliminate the requirement for an admissions test for incoming law students.

The American Bar Association's policymaking body is its 591-member House of Delegates, seen here at the 2022 ABA Annual Meeting.

The American Bar Association's policymaking body is its 591-member House of Delegates, seen here at the 2022 ABA Annual Meeting.

American Bar Association photo

The in-person ABA 2023 Midyear Meeting begins on Wednesday, Feb. 1. The policymaking ABA House of Delegates (HOD) is made up of 591 delegates from ABA entities and state, local and specialty bar associations.

A beneficial owner is a person who enjoys the benefits of ownership although an asset’s title is listed in another name. Since 2020, Congress has passed legislation to combat criminal activity, including a law that requires certain business entities to file information on their beneficial owners with a federal agency. HOD Resolution 704 seeks to balance the longstanding attorney-client privilege with the demands of governmental entities seeking access to information on alleged criminal activities.

Resolution 300 would mark a change in law school admissions policies by deleting the current accreditation requirement that most incoming students submit a test score. Now, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are recognized as “valid and reliable” tests under this standard. The new rule would take effect for students entering law school in 2026-2027. Still, each of the 196 law schools approved by the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar would be able to determine for themselves whether to require a test score.

Under ABA procedures, the HOD can review a proposed change to the standards twice and concur, reject or make recommendations. But final decisions rest with the 21-member council, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the national accreditor of law schools.

Other HOD proposals include resolutions addressing rising antisemitism, several medical issues, including a proposal opposing governmental restrictions on the right of individuals to travel interstate to access medical care, and a measure condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

With the posted agenda set weeks in advance of the HOD meeting, late resolutions could be added under certain circumstances to reflect proposed ABA policy responses to national and other developments during the past few weeks.

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