Proactive management-based regulation: update from the US

Technology was very much a topic of conversation at the 2017 ICLR Meeting in Singapore.    Regulators are using technology to help them better focus their work and resources.  In the context of access to legal services and access to justice, technology offers consumers ways to connect with lawyers and to get help.  And, technology helps lawyers market themselves and their services.

With constant changes in technology, how lawyers advertise and market their services, domestically and internationally, remains a topic of high interest.  Some countries prohibit lawyer advertising. Others permit it, but regulate it to varying degrees.  In the U.S., while generally following the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, there is significant jurisdictional variation in how lawyer advertising and marketing is regulated.  The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has undertaken a comprehensive study of the ABA Model Rules on this subject in the interest of furthering uniformity, but also because its members concluded that the current advertising rules are outdated and may hinder the ability of lawyers to adapt to changing technology. In addition, the Committee recognizes that consumers frequently use technology to learn about and access legal services.

The Committee intends to present a proposal to amend these Model Rules to the ABA House of Delegates for consideration in August 2018.  The Committee’s Working Draft of the proposed amendments to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Memorandum explaining those changes is out for review and comment. All written comments on the Working Draft should be filed by March 1, 2018.  Comments may be emailed to  All comments will be posted on the ABA website.

The ABA Center for Professional Responsibility continues its work to educate the profession about Proactive Management-Based Regulation, and to provide resources and tools to regulators and others on this subject.  The Center has launched a new PMBR web resource, which includes US and International resources.  Colorado has launched its voluntary self-assessment program, and Illinois is in the process of implementing its new PMBR self-assessment and education rules for lawyers in the state who do not carry malpractice insurance.   The Center will continue its work in this area and welcomes from ICLR members information to add to its PMBR web resource.

Thank you to Ellyn Rosen, Regulation and Global Initiatives Counsel, ABA Center for Professional Responsibility for providing this update.

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