For the past few months, I’ve been tracking the activity of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 . Created in 2009, the Commission has been tasked to review the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility and the U.S. system of lawyer regulation in the context of advances in technology and global legal practice developments, and recommend changes.
Although only 40 percent of practicing lawyers belong to the ABA (roughly 400,000+ members out of 1.1 million practicing lawyers), the ABA’s recommendations will have far-reaching consequences. Virtually every state has adopted the Model Rules (albeit with some variations), which means that the ABA is effectively regulating all lawyers by default. Moreover, changes to the regulations — on matters like outsourcing and off-shoring, lawyer use of social media, client confidentiality and cloud computing, and non-lawyer ownership of law firms — will have profound impacts on the legal profession. Yet despite the enormous potential for change, few lawyers, particularly solo and small firm lawyers are getting involved.
The ABA Commission is doing a fine job of keeping lawyers informed through a conventional websiteand listserve. But I wanted to offer, as a supplement to the ABA’s efforts, a more interactive approach to facilitate participation and to capture some of the conversations in the blogosphere about these issues. Moreover, given that the Commission is tackling matters associated with 21st century law practice, it’s appropriate for the form for dissemination of information match the substance. And so I created the MyShingle ABAEthics2020.com site, which is now up and running. Features include:
- Aggregated commentary and coverage from MyShingle on Ethics 20/20 issues;
- One hour recorded briefing by Carolyn Elefant on the ABA’s Whitepapers on Lawyer Use of Online Tools for Marketing and Client Confidentiality and Cloud Computing, accompanied by a detailed power point presentation;
- Regularly updated links to articles and blog posts on Ethics 20/20 issues;
- Two wikis, for submitting comments on the ABA Whitepapers on Social Media and Cloud Computing and
- Our very own Facebook Page.
Best of all, because all of the tools that I’ve employed are free and highly user-friendly, I was able to create the site in an evening, while debating Antigone’s motivations for burying her brother with my older daughter, and reviewing my younger daughter’s book review and then pass along to my virtual assistant to implement (truth be told, I could have done this as well, but she’s much quicker at it). Moreover, I’ve tried to design it in a way that most of the updates can be accomplished with minimal effort.
No matter where and how you decide to track the work of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, whether at their site or mine or somewhere else entirely, please make sure that you make your voice heard before it’s too late. As scary as the notion of technology and global practice may be, what’s far scarier is a return to a world where they didn’t exist to provide us with the awesome opportunities we have to improve the quality of legal service and expand meaningful access to justice.
NOTE: If you have an article, blog post or anything else that’s relevant to the ABA Commission’s work, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll upload it to the site.