Risk Update

ABA WEBINAR — Are Outside Counsel Guidelines a Threat to the Practice?

With thanks to Anthony Davis at Clyde & Co for the gracious invitation, I’m looking forward to this ABA webinar on April 20th (at 2pm eastern): “Are Outside Counsel Guidelines a Threat to the Practice?” —

  • Have outside counsel guidelines gone a step too far? Are they being used to inappropriately restrict lawyers? Join our terrific ABA members and ethics lawyers Anthony Davis, Bruce Green, and Eric Hirschhorn as they grapple with the issues and discuss whether the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct should be amended to address these and similar concerns or whenever these should be left to bargaining between clients and their outside counsel.
  • The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct strike a balance between allowing clients and lawyers to contract with one another as they see fit and protecting essential elements of the practice of law (including access to legal services, the definition of what constitutes a conflict of interest, confidentiality of client information, loyalty to clients, and the independence of lawyers)
  • Some argue that this balance is being upset by a growing profusion of outside counsel guidelines (collectively, “OCGs”) that are generated by institutional clients.
  • What’s a lawyer to do when OCGs:
    • Expand the definition of “client” far beyond the organization that will actually receive legal services;
    • Restrict a lawyer from providing services to competitors of the client;
    • Require disclosure of confidential information relating to other clients;
    • Expand the definitions of positional conflicts so as to restrict law firms’ availability to serve other clients; and
    • Restrict the lawyer’s future use of expertise garnered during the course of representing a client?

The event is free for ABA members with a registration fee for non-members. But I’ll aim to take a few notes on anything interest I hear…