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.