ABA Approves Innovation Resolution, With Revisions to Limit Regulatory Changes

The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates passed a resolution to push for new approaches to the practice of law that would improve access to justice, but not before adding a disclaimer to address concerns raised by some state bar associations about outside investment in law firms.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
February 17, 2020

Tags: Access to Justice, Non-lawyers, Regulations

Organizations mentioned/involved: American Bar Association (ABA)


An overwhelming majority of the House of Delegates agreed in a verbal vote Monday to approve Resolution 115, which encourages state regulators and state bar associations to explore regulatory innovations that could improve access to legal services, and to collect data on those programs. But the resolution also notes that it should not be construed as recommending any changes to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 5.4, as they relate to nonlawyer ownership of law firms, the unauthorized practice of law, or any other subjects.

The vote in favor was near unanimous. Henry Greenberg, president of the New York State Bar Association, which had a few weeks ago raised concerns about elements of a report accompanying Resolution 115, spoke in support of the resolution at the meeting Monday.

“115 is not just the right thing to do, the moral thing to do for our clients, but for the profession it’s the right thing to do. We know pro bono alone is not getting it done,” Greenberg told the delegates when urging them to support the resolution. He noted that it does not dictate any changes state bar associations should make.