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ABA Lowers Ethics Requirement for Lateral Hiring
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The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates voted yesterday to amend its Model Rule of Professional Conduct governing conflicts of interest stemming from lateral hiring.

At the ABA meeting in Boston, the 555-member ABA House of Delegates voted 226 to 191 in favor of Recommendation 109, which allows law firms to hire lawyers with conflicts of interest without a waiver from the client. Also, the conflicts wouldn’t necessarily transfer to other lawyers in the hiring firm.

Amendments to the recommendation require the hiring firm to give the incoming lawyer’s former client written notice of the screening procedures. The firm must also let the client know they may seek judicial review. The amended rule also bars screened lawyers from directly sharing compensation from matters they’re disqualified from due to the conflict.

  
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The 400,000-member bar association grappled with the issue at its annual meeting last summer in New York, where the ABA House of Delegates tabled a resolution similar to Recommendation 109.

Carolyn B. Lamm, ABA’s president-elect and a Washington, DC-based partner at White & Case, noted during the floor debate that 11 states have passed “what is essentially 109,” joining 13 states with their own ethics screening resolution.

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