So glad you asked. Let me tell you, and tell you why, despite the tried and true adage, it needs to not stay in Vegas.
Later this week the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers is having its mid-year meeting in Las Vegas, and we are dedicating our entire programming to a theme: The Future of Lawyering. Under the leadership of former APRL President, Art Lachman, and as I have mentioned in the past, we have launched a Future of Lawyering Committee that is taking a look at potential ways to overhaul certain aspects of the ethics rules.
We will have a day and a half of programming dedicated to that topic. There will be panels discussing each of the following topics:
- The potential for reform in the 21st Century on issues of cross-border practice
- How to address “nonlawyer” practice in this modern era.
- What the practice of law might be like if there was no Model Rule 5.4.
- The pros and cons of the notion of making having professional liability insurance mandatory for lawyers.
- What ought to be done, if anything, about changing how law firms are regulated (or not) under the ethics rules
- Exploring the impact of A.I. on ethical law practice
Oh, and there’s one I left out of that list.
I’m fortunate enough to be involved in one of the panel discussions: “Ethical ‘Evils’ of Referral Fees and For-Profit Referral Services: Time for a Change?” Our panel will be teeing up two possible ideas for things to consider in terms of the restrictions that exist on the ability of lawyers to compensate people and entities who, in one form or fashion or another, refer business to them.
One possibility will be the “radical” notion of what would the rules simply look like if there was no restriction at all in Model Rule 7.2 on providing such compensation? The other possibility will be to look at a proposed new Model Rule 7.7 that yours truly has drafted in the first instance that would seek to permit the wide variety of currently-existing (and recently shut down) on-line matching platforms, and dropping away any concerns about whether such arrangements involve unlawful payments for referrals, as long as the lawyers involved maintain their independent professional judgment, costs of the arrangement aren’t passed on to clients by the lawyer, and the arrangement is transparent to the client.
This combination of programs should make for a very invigorating and enlightening debate on a wide variety of important issues. And, for once, hopefully we will all manage to agree that what happens in Vegas does not just stay in Vegas this time.