Clarity on the US Regulatory Front: Evolution Not Revolution

As the ABA provides greater clarity on their expectations for its members using LPOs, are firms keeping up?

While fundamentally more conservative than the sweeping regulatory shifts in the UK, the ABA is continuing to provide greater clarity around law firms collaboration with third-party legal vendors. As a result, many US firms are reassessing their compliance.

At Fronterion, we continue to follow the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 as they examine and present changes to the ethical rules guiding legal professionals on their use and application of third-party legal vendors domestically and abroad.

Following a meeting in Washington DC mid-April that dealt with the growing body of proposed ethical amendments and the discussion surrounding them, the Commission has settled on an ‘Initial Draft.’ This draft is a step up from the previous ‘Discussion Draft’.

The Commission Co-Chairs, Jamie Gorelick and Michael Traynor summarized the changes as follows:

In this regard, the Commission’s proposals are more evolutionary than revolutionary… the initial proposals concern outsourcing, confidentiality issues arising from technology, and limited practice authorization for inbound foreign lawyers. With regard to outsourcing, the Commission is proposing amendments to the Comments to Model Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1 (Competence), 5.3 (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants), and 5.5 (Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice). The Commission’s objective is to offer lawyers clearer guidance regarding their ethical obligations when using lawyers and nonlawyers outside the firm, whether domestically or outside the United States.

If you’re interested in learning more about the ABA’s 20/20 Commission, previous ethical guidelines and related resources check out our sister website completely devoted to legal outsourcing ethics (

Written by Fronterion