ABA issues new guidance on navigating model rules remotely

On the 16th December 2020 the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released a formal opinion to help lawyers to better understand the application of model rules to lawyers practising remotely, this is particularly for those working from jurisdictions in which they are not licensed.

Formal Opinion 495 provides guidance when a lawyer may practice the law for which they are licensed while physically in a different jurisdiction. The guidance has stated that if a lawyer is physically present in a jurisdiction in which they are not licensed to practice — and the local jurisdiction has not determined such practice is unauthorized – the lawyer may practice if they meet the following guidelines:

  • They do not establish an office or other systematic presence in that local jurisdiction.
    They do not “hold out” a presence or availability to perform legal services in that local jurisdiction.
    They do not actually provide legal services for matters in that local jurisdiction.
    The opinion notes that providing local contact information on websites, letterhead, business cards or advertising are examples of communications that would improperly suggest a local office or local presence.

Read the full guidance here. 

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