Lawyer ethics for innovation

Law struggles to keep pace with innovation. Twenty-first century advancements like artificial intelligence, blockchain and data analytics are already in use by academic institutions, corporations, government entities, healthcare providers and others but many questions remain about individual autonomy, identity, privacy and security. even as new laws address known threats, future technology developments and process improvements fuelled by consumer demand and globalisation, inevitably will present externalities that the legal community has yet to confront.

How do we design laws and systems to ensure accountability, equality, and transparency in this environment of rapid change? The solution can be found in a surprising source – the regulation of professional ethics. Lawyers have the capacity to play a critical role both in assessing the risks and benefits of innovation generally and also in deploying innovation tools to enhance the delivery of legal services.

Jefferson, R. K. (2021). Lawyer Ethics for Innovation. Notre Dame JL Ethics & Pub. Pol’y35, 1.

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The American Bar Association provides some expert tips for practicing ethically

Theresa Gronkiewicz writes that after a career of representing lawyers in complaints issues there are a number of issues that come up time and again which could be avoided by implementing a strong practice management system and common-sense approach to law.

There are 12 tips including:

  • Implement strong law office management procedures
  • Learn to identify when someone will become a problem client
  • Only use client funds for their intended purpose
  • Communicate effectively with your client
  • Be diligent in attending client matters until the matter is resolved
  • Be open and honest with your client and others in the profession
  • Honour client confidences
  • Rules of professional conduct apply to all communications via the internet
  • Carefully consider any conflict of interest
  • Be civil and professional
  • Think through any potential ethical dilemma
  • Remain abreast of the law

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NOvA, the Dutch Bar, is using the DilemmApp to increase awareness of ethics and compliance issues amongst lawyers

The Dutch Bar is using an app called DilemmApp as a tool for increasing awareness and insight into ethics and compliance issues for its members. The App confronts the user with a dilemma in which they have to make a judgment call about the best course of action.

After 2 weeks, NOvA posts its final remarks on the dilemma alongside the reactions of other users. This then provides a platform for lawyers to see other courses of action that could be taken to broaden their thinking on different ethical and compliance issues they face whilst undertaking their role.

Read the full article here.

Canadian Government passes new regulations in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine

New regulations brought in by the Canadian government have seen individuals and entities have their assets frozen and further dealings prohibited in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Lawyers in Alberta have a regulatory obligation to comply with these and to not assist anyone in conducting illegal activities, including future dealings with prohibited Russian entities or individuals. Lawyers may therefore be required to consider how much they can assist a client or whether they have a duty to withdraw.

Read the full story here.