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May 23, 2024

ABA meeting in Denver tackles AI, other ethical issues in changing landscape of profession

CHICAGO, May 23, 2024 — The American Bar Association will hold its 49th ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility on May 30-31 in Denver with an array of programs focusing on timely legal ethics issues, including artificial intelligence, judicial ethics and a retrospective look at the changes in legal ethics stemming from the Watergate episode a half century ago.

49th National Conference on Professional Responsibility
Sponsored by the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility (CPR)

Thursday-Friday, May 30-31 (all times MDT)

Grand Hyatt Denver
1750 Welton St.
Denver, Colorado

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 39th ABA National Forum on Client Protection on May 31-June 1, also at the Grand Hyatt Denver.

With the emergence of artificial intelligence as a hot topic in the legal field, there are two plenary programs that focus on AI. They are:

  • Unlocking the Potential: Navigating Artificial Intelligence in Legal Practice (Part 1)” ─ A panel of technical experts will attempt to demystify AI types, showcase its current integration into daily legal practices and unveil the promising future applications shaping the legal landscape. Speakers are Nicole Black, lawyer, author and head of SME and External Education, MyCase & LawPay; Greg Siskind, founder of Siskind Susser, PC (immigration lawyers); and Josh Noe, chief executive officer, Brass Tacks Consulting.
    Thursday, 910:20 a.m.

  • “Catching up to AI Ethically: How the existing ethics rules apply to artificial intelligence, and how to guide lawyers in avoiding the ethical pitfalls (Part 2)” ─ A different panel unravels the evolving landscape of ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, emerging ethics opinions and court rules related to AI. The session is intended to help lawyers navigate this dynamic terrain and provide invaluable ethical guidance to peers. Speakers are Melinda J. Bentley, legal ethics counsel, Office of Legal Ethics Counsel & Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri; April McMurrey, deputy regulation counsel, Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel; and Rachael Lynn Fletcher Cipole, chief lawyer disciplinary counsel, West Virginia Office of Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel.
    Thursday, 3:40-5 p.m.

Other conference highlights include:

  • “Judicial Ethics...Who Expected Front Page News?” ─ Recent developments raise questions on judicial ethics and decision-making in the federal and state judiciaries. Controversies related to judges’ conflicts, competence and other ethics concerns have contributed to what pollsters report is an all-time low in public opinion of the judiciary. The session will examine judicial ethics and professionalism issues involved in the controversies and the newly adopted voluntary code of conduct for justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Speakers include Melissa Hart, justice, Colorado Supreme Court; Gabe Roth, executive director, Fix the Court; Simon A. Steel, partner, Dentons US LLP; and Kevin Hopkins, professor, University of Illinois Chicago School of Law.
    Thursday, 2-3:20 p.m.

  • “Watergate and Legal Ethics: 50 Years On” ─ Fifty years ago this summer, the Nixon presidency came crashing down amid political and criminal misconduct, and the most prominent architects and wrongdoers were lawyers. That fact led to a sea change in legal ethics, certainly including required teaching of legal ethics in law schools and perhaps even the adoption of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The expert panel in this plenary session reexamines the lessons of Watergate and its legacy for legal ethics. Speakers include Kathleen Clark, professor, Washington University; Richard William Painter, S. Walter Richey Professor of Corporate Law, University of Minnesota Law School; and Margaret Christine Tarkington, professor of law, Indiana University Indianapolis, McKinney School of Law.
    Friday, 9-10:20 a.m.

Two awards will also be given during the conference, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 30. Randall T. Tesser will receive the 2024 Rosner & Rosner Young Lawyer Professionalism Award from CPR and ABA Young Lawyers Division. He is an associate attorney at Tesser, Ryan & Rochman LLP in White Plains, New York, where he manages the firm’s professional responsibility and ethics practice and advises a wide range of professionals on matters of ethics, professionalism and disciplinary matters.

Susan Fortney, a law professor and recognized national expert on ethics, is the 2024 recipient of the Michael Franck Professional Responsibility Award, one of the ABA’s top ethics honors. Fortney is the Stephen R. Alton University Professor and director of the Program for the Advancement of Legal Ethics at Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth. She is internationally renowned for her research, scholarship and teaching on legal ethics and the regulation of lawyers.

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

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
EDT, Wednesday, May 29
, 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. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on X (formerly Twitter) @ABANews.