CBA proposes amendment to Rule 1.10 to permit screening of laterals to avoid imputed disqualification

From the agenda for the December 11, 2011 meeting of the Superior Court Rules Committee:

4-2. Proposal submitted by CBA President Gallant to amend Rule 1.10 of the Rules of Professional Conduct to provide a screening mechanism that would permit law firms to avoid imputed conflicts of interest triggered by attorneys making lateral moves from one law firm to another.

If the Superior Court Rules Committee adopts the CBA recommendation, Connecticut’s Rule 1.10 will be consistent with existing case law in Connecticut (see memorandum prepared by Attorney Marcy Stovall of Pullman Comley for the ethics committee) and will mirror ABA Rule 1.10.

 

House of Delegates Votes Unanimously in favor of ABA Model Rule 1.10

As amended ABA Model Rule 1.10 provides a way to avoid imputed conflicts of interest when lawyers move from one firm to another when those firms represent opposing parties.  At last night’s (Monday, June 20th, 2011)  House of Delegates, following a presentation by Marcy Stoval, a member of the CBA Committee on Professional,  voted unanimously in favor of recommending to the Superior Court Rules Committee the adoption of ABA Model Rule 1.10.  Previously, the CBA Committee on Professional Ethics after discussion of a memorandum prepared by Ms. Stoval had voted in favor of recommending to the CBA leadership that it, the CBA leadership, recommend adoption of Model Rule 1.10 to the Superior Court Rules Committee.  A copy of Ms. Stoval’s memorandum explaining ABA Rule 1.10 as amended and setting forth the reasons for adopting it is available here.

ABA House of Delegates: Rules (of Professional Conduct) are made, if not to be broken, then to be amended

The debate in the ABA House of Delegates is here.  When the webcast comes up, move the slider until the number of minutes shown on the bottom right is around 170, which is where the debate begins.

It is an interesting debate.  One way to look at it is this:  one of the traditional ways of emphasizing and enforcing the principle of loyalty to clients (imputed disqualification) was surrendered to “the economic facts of life.”  In this context the economic fact of life is that lawyers want  – in some cases it would be fair to say need – to have the freedom to work wherever there is an opportunity.  By voting as it did the ABA voted in favor of selling off a piece of one of its most valuable assets, commitment to client loyalty.  At the mention of loyalty as a characteristic of the attorney – client relationship, it may be fair to note that loyalty is very often a one way street running from lawyer to client, which, one might argue, makes lawyer-loyalty all the more valuable and noble.  But, hold off on hand-wringing, pontificating and moralizing until reading and thinking about the conditions that must be met before screening is allowed.