June 16, 2011
ND Chief Justice Requests Comments for the ABA 20/20 Commission
Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle of the North Dakota Supreme Court today issued the State of the Judiciary Report 2011. The Chief Justice "serve[s] on the ABA 20/20 Commission whose charter is to examine the ethical and regulatory impact of advancing technology and increasing globalization on the legal profession and to make recommendations to the House of Delegates." Chief Justice VandeWalle is always thoughtful in his approach, and he means it when he asks for input. In closing the report, he noted a few things of potential interest to business lawyers.
The Commission has agreed on some recommendations on outsourcing, confidentiality-related ethics issues for lawyers' use of technology, and rules relating to inbound foreign lawyers. For the most part the latter would amend Rules 5.5 and 8.5 to allow foreign lawyers the right to temporarily practice in a jurisdiction that is given to lawyers from other states in this country. The big issues, alternative business structures, including non-lawyer ownership of a law firm, and alternative litigation financing are under hot debate.
If you have an interest in these matters I urge you to go to the ABA website carrying the 20/20 reports, requests for comment and recommendations. It is: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/aba_ commission_on_ethics_20_20.html. In fact I urge you to look at it even if you are not interested to the end that in the future you will not ask "why didn't someone tell me about this?"
I close with the observation that while we are not without flaws, I believe the state of the Judiciary in North Dakota is vigorous, vital and healthy.