ABA Commission Rejects Law Firm Discipline

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By Lazar Emanuel
[Originally published in NYPRR August 2001]


On Nov. 27, 2000, the ABA’s “Ethics 2000” Commission issued its report recommending changes in the ABA Model Rules. Among its recommendations, the Commission proposed amendments to Model Rules 5.1 and 5.3. The effect of these amendments would be to impose disciplinary control over law firms as well as individual lawyers. The Commission was following the lead of New York.

New York’s DR 1-104(A) provides: “A law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that all lawyers in the firm conform to the disciplinary rules.” DR 1-104(C) provides in part: “A law firm shall adequately supervise, as appropriate, the work of partners, associates and non-lawyers who work at the firm.”

In June 2001, the Ethics 2000 Commission reversed itself and dropped its recommendation that the Model Rules be amended to subject law firms to discipline for violations of the disciplinary rules. The Commission concluded that the disciplinary rules are most effective when they are directed at the individual lawyer.

Lazar Emanuel is the Publisher of NYPRR.

DISCLAIMER: This article provides general coverage of its subject area and is presented to the reader for informational purposes only with the understanding that the laws governing legal ethics and professional responsibility are always changing. The information in this article is not a substitute for legal advice and may not be suitable in a particular situation. Consult your attorney for legal advice. New York Legal Ethics Reporter provides this article with the understanding that neither New York Legal Ethics Reporter LLC, nor Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, nor Hofstra University, nor their representatives, nor any of the authors are engaged herein in rendering legal advice. New York Legal Ethics Reporter LLC, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, Hofstra University, their representatives, and the authors shall not be liable for any damages resulting from any error, inaccuracy, or omission.

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