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May 22, 2023

ABA meeting in New Orleans tackles ethical issues amid changing landscape of legal profession

CHICAGO, May 22, 2023 — The American Bar Association will hold its 48th ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility on June 1-2 in New Orleans with an array of programs focusing on timely legal ethics issues, including climate change challenges for lawyers, their mental health and well-being, and potential ethical consequences when a client lies.

48th National Conference on Professional Responsibility
Sponsored by the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR)

Thursday-Friday, June 1-2 (all times CDT)

New Orleans Marriott
555 Canal St.
New Orleans, Louisiana

Former ABA President Judy Perry Martinez (2019-2020), who lives in New Orleans, will provide welcoming remarks Thursday morning at the conference, which will be in-person only. The annual event, the preeminent educational and networking opportunity in the field of legal ethics and professional responsibility, brings together leading experts, scholars and practitioners from across the country. It will overlap with the 38th ABA National Forum on Client Protection on June 2-3, also at the New Orleans Marriott.

Altogether, there will be four plenary programs, in addition to other panels. The plenary sessions are:

  • “Ethics in the Rear View” — Panelists will provide a comprehensive overview of recent developments in the field of legal ethics and professional responsibility, discussing major cases, rule changes, formal ethics opinions, significant law school initiatives and publications, as well as other industry hot topics.
    9-10:20 a.m., Thursday

  • “Feeling the Heat: Climate Change Meets Legal Ethics” — As the climate crisis escalates, conversation about the legal profession’s accountability has become more prevalent, especially with law students and newer lawyers. Lawyers’ representations under Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2 (Scope of Representation) are not an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities. But tension remains between lawyers’ duties to the client versus their duties to society and the rule of law. The panel, among other topics, will explore navigating these responsibilities in the context of climate change.
    3:40-5 p.m., Thursday
  • Navigating the Present Roadblocks of MJP and Addressing Its Future Potential” — In 2002, the ABA Commission on Multijurisdictional Practice (MJP) reported — and the ABA adopted — Model Rule 5.5. Twenty years later, the legal landscape has considerably changed and 5.5 is much more difficult to comply with. The panel will look at whether lawyer regulators simply should “tear down that wall” and allow expansion of multijurisdictional practice to accelerate.
    9-10:20 a.m., Friday
  • “The Right (Not) to Remain Silent or Freedom of Speech Does Not Mean Freedom from Consequences” — Lawyers serving their clients in political positions are finding compliance with the professional conduct rules and their professional obligations increasingly being challenged. The panel will look at myriad issues, including the role of a lawyer as an advocate, free speech issues and whether a government lawyer can join a meritless national action without risk.
    3:40-5 p.m., Friday

Two awards will also be given during the conference, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 1. Gabrielle Morlock a 2019 graduate of the University of Arizona James E. Rodgers College of Law, will be honored with the 2023 Rosner & Rosner Young Lawyer Professionalism Award. The award recognizes young lawyers who have demonstrated an interest in and commitment to areas such as legal and judicial ethics, lawyer professionalism, client protection and professional regulation.

A first-generation lawyer, Morlock of Snell & Wilmer LLP in Tucson, Arizona, is being honored for demonstrating a commitment to ethical and moral obligations both in her professional and volunteer work, including advocating for abused and neglected children in court as part of the program, Court Appointed Special Advocate or CASA.

Also, Jayne R. Reardon, a longtime Illinois lawyer who is a national leader in the field of civility and professionalism in the legal community, will receive the 2023 Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award. She also has served in various leadership positions at the ABA as a volunteer.

A complete conference agenda can be found online and a list of speakers is here.

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 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 CDT, Tuesday, May 30, by contacting Bill Choyke at [email protected].

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.