109/110 vote pending – 3:27p.m.

February 16, 2009

After nearly two hours of debate, a delegate from Pennsylvania has just called for a question to end the debate on the grounds that the House did not need further education of the proposed resolutions.

The vote could not be concluded following an “aye” or “nay” vote and was sent to a standing vote. Moderators have required nearly ten minutes to perform a manual head count of the delegates in favor of the resolutions.


Wells: “This is not just a big firm issue” – 3:13p.m.

February 16, 2009

Following a series of passionate and lengthy debate, ABA President H. Thomas Wells stepped in against the motion:

“We are not debating a motion against screening. Both accept screening in appropriate cases…the question is how restrictive should the screening be? We are not talking about obligations of confidentially. Both respect the confidentially of all lawyers involved.”

“This is not just a big firm issue. It’s an issue for law firms and indeed solo practitioners. The possibilities of unworkable imputation are magnified in areas where local legal areas are limited. The mobility of lawyers is increasing, within and between law firms, including involuntary layoffs mostly.”

109/110 Arguments -2:30p.m.

February 16, 2009

Mundheim: “We’re not dealing with a one-dimensional interest. We must strike the balance. I hope the ABA will use this opportunity to play its traditional role as a leader in fostering a model approach of professional responsibility that reflects the changing demands of world in which we live.”

James McCauley, Virginia State Bar Ethics Counsel…”[Present rule] 110 is the most practical and transparent means of ensuring our rules of confidentiality are enforced. Report 109 is telling your organized bar, courts and the public that lawyers with a substantial role with clients may terminate that role, abandon the client, and join the law firm that represents that lawyer’s adversary. Ladies and gentlemen, that is not transparency.”

Lawrence J. Fox of Pennsylvania for the ABA Section of Litigation, called the proposed resolution an “assault on our rules governing confidentially” and such a rule would be putting “the interest of lawyers ahead of clients.”

Reports 109/110 on the table – 2:16p.m.

February 16, 2009

Robert Mundheim, Chair of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility is currently speaking on Reports 109 and 110; the two reports are expected to inspire the hottest debate of the day. Mr. Hubbard has allowed ten minutes for each side to state its case.

Here are the recommendations:

109 Amend Model Rule 1.10 to permit screening of lateral-hire lawyers so that conflicts-of-interest are not imputed to other lawyers in the new firm

110 Amend Model Rule 1.10 to permit certain lawyers to move to an adversary law firm without client consent, if lawyers are screened

Stay tuned for the vote.

Treasury note – 1:50p.m.

February 16, 2009

Mostly administrative matters being discussed, including a consent calendar and a treasury outlook by ABA Treasurer Alice Richmond. One interesting note: the ABA’s long-term investments have lost $57 million since June 2008.

And we’re back! -1:37p.m.

February 16, 2009

The delegates are matriculating back into the Hynes Convention Center ballroom. The new resolutions will be discussed shortly.

House adjouned for lunch -12:14p.m.

February 16, 2009

The House of Delegates has adjourned for lunch. They will return at 1:30p.m.

Mass. Chief Justice Marshall speaks on state courts -12:05p.m.

February 16, 2009

Margaret H. Marshall, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court is now addressing the House.

Some highlights:

On her South Africa upbringing: “Courts were the handmaidens of Parliament. Judges were powerless to strike down even the most unjust laws, so long as those laws were duly enacted. Justice was not blind. It was a stacked deck.”

On the need for state court funding: “These are lean times for the public sector…Public entities must make painful choices. From my conversations with state court chief justices across the nation, I know that state courts are willing to bear their fair share of budget cuts.”

On the need for increased access to justice: “Both the Conference of Chief Justices and the American Bar Association have called, in the strongest of terms, for more and better resources to be directed to the administration of justice in our state courts. In the balance hangs the fate of our justice system.”

On reforming judicial elections: “This trio of developments – special interest money, attack ads, the loosening of ethical strictures on judicial campaign speech – has transformed the nature of judicial elections….When judges have to look over their shoulders before deciding a case…when litigants enter the courtroom hoping their attorney has contributed enough to a judge’s election coffers, we are in trouble, deep trouble.”

10C-D passed

February 16, 2009

Two new resolutions, incuding a vote for an ABA representative from the District of Columbia to enter the House of Representatives have been passed.

Dellinger addresses house

February 16, 2009

Former U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger III, in keeping with the House’s theme of promoting diversity and fairness, is currently speaking before the House on the subject of “America’s Greatest Lawyer”, Abraham Lincoln.