Thursday, June 28, 2012

Meditations on Cross-Border Practice, Choice of Law and Virtual Law


Last week, the ABA Ethics 20/20 Working Group on Uniformity, Choice of Law and Conflicts of Interest released a paper asking for input on potential changes to Model Rule 5.5:
  • "The Commission has learned that, since 2002, the proliferation of lawyers’ use of technology has raised new questions about the meaning of the phrase 'systematic and continuous presence' in Rule 5.5(b). In particular, technology now enables lawyers to be physically present in one jurisdiction, yet have a substantial virtual practice in another. The problem is that it is not always clear when this virtual practice in a jurisdiction is sufficiently 'systematic and continuous' to require a license in that jurisdiction."
The paper goes on to review changes the Working Group proposed and outlines several new approaches it is considering in response to community feedback.

In that regard, the Legal Ethics Forum presents analysis and additional commentary: "A Hypo on Virtual Law Practice and Rule 5.5" --
  • "Imagine that Laura Lawyer is licensed only in Massachusetts and operates a virtual law office from there. She writes wills for clients in Massachusetts and, occasionally, New Hampshire. Lately, the flow of clients from New Hampshire has increased, and Laura is writing an increasing number of wills for New Hampshire citizens. Assume that Laura never visits New Hampshire and performs all of her work in Massachusetts over the Internet. Here are a couple of questions..." [See their site for additional detail and exploration.]

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