ABA Delegates Pass Model Guidelines

Jennifer L. Parent
Director, Litigation Department & Chair Business Litigation Practice Group
Published: New Hampshire Bar News
February 17, 2016

As the NH Bar Association’s delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, I attended the American Bar Association’s Midyear Meeting in San Diego, Calif., earlier this month.

The policy-making body of the ABA, the House of Delegates is vested with the control and administration of the ABA and meets twice each year – at the ABA annual and midyear meetings. Many interesting resolutions come before the House for consideration.

One of the resolutions before the House that sparked conversation concerned a proposed model regulatory objective to guide courts in existing regulatory framework and other regulations they may choose to develop concerning non-traditional legal service providers. For example, as we are confronted with evolving technology in online dispute resolution companies like MODRIA and business models like LegalZoom; some states are approving limited-license legal technicians. The ABA resolution came out of work done by the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services. After debate, the resolution passed with an amendment stressing that nothing in the resolution abrogates existing ABA policy prohibiting non-lawyer ownership of law firms or the core values adopted by the House of Delegates.

Some other resolutions dealt with substantive topics, such as desiring state adoption of uniform state laws for athlete agents, commercial real estate receivership, home foreclosure procedures, recognition and enforcement of Canadian domestic violence protection orders, and trust decanting, as well as urging the US Supreme Court to record and make available video recordings of oral arguments. A full list of the resolutions can be found on the ABA website.

Bar associations and courts around the country are in discussions about these and other issues related to the future of our profession, as many try to understand and monitor the rapid innovations that are occurring. Some of these new challenges are at the heart of this year’s NHBA Midyear Meeting scheduled for March 4 in Manchester.

Some of the participants at the National Summit on Innovation in Legal Services held in Stanford, Calif., back in May 2015, will be with us in New Hampshire on March 4. The summit addressed the major changes in the profession and the new modes of legal services and alternative business models. These are things courts across the country are considering.

As we all try to make sense of and examine the trends and changes occurring in the legal profession at what seems a high rate of speed, one thing is for sure – we all need to participate in the discussion. I look forward to the Midyear Meeting as an opportunity to do just that.