The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 recently filed four resolutions and reports for the ABA House of Delegates to consider at its February 2013 midyear meeting. I have summarized the proposals below and included links to the relevant documents. The proposals address issues relating to the increasing globalization of the legal marketplace and, with one exception, focus on issues arising for foreign lawyers seeking to practice in the U.S. (i.e., inbound foreign lawyers).
Proposal Regarding Choice of Law and Conflicts of Interest. The Commission proposes to add new language to Comment  of Model Rule 8.5 (Choice of Law) that would, subject to several important limitations, authorize lawyers and clients to specify a particular jurisdiction as within the scope of Rule 8.5(b)(2) for purposes of interpreting the phrase “predominant effect.” (Additional information is here.)
Proposals Regarding Inbound Foreign Lawyers. The Commission is proposing three sets of amendments to address issues related to foreign lawyers who seek to practice within the U.S. They include:
- Amendments to the Model Rule on Pro Hac Vice Admission that would permit judges, at their discretion and subject to numerous limitations, to authorize foreign lawyers to appear pro hac vice. (Additional information is here.)
- Amendments to Model Rule 5.5(d) that would authorize foreign lawyers to serve as in-house counsel from a continuous and systematic presence in the U.S. (Additional information is here.)
- Amendments to the Model Rule for Registration of In-House Counsel that would provide a mechanism to identify, monitor, and hold foreign lawyers accountable for their in-house counsel work in the U.S. (Additional information is here.)
The Commission’s overarching report is here. It summarizes the reasons for the proposals and explains the Commission’s decision not to propose changes to address other subjects, such as choice of law issues relating to nonlawyer ownership as well as multijurisdictional practice issues arising from virtual law offices.
The Commission will complete its work in February 2013.