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TCL > January 1999 Issue > Preliminary Agenda Items for the ABA's Midyear Meeting

January 1999       Vol. 28, No. 1       Page  23
ABA Delegates' Report

Preliminary Agenda Items for the ABA's Midyear Meeting
by Robert R. Keatinge

The American Bar Association ("ABA") House of Delegates ("House") will meet on February 8 and 9, 1999, in Los Angeles, California. The following items are based on the preliminary agenda of the House of Delegates, reflecting reports filed by the cutoff date of November 20, 1998. These are preliminary indications of the matters to be considered at the meeting of the House of Delegates. As should be clear from the descriptions below, the information with respect to recommendations is fairly vague at this time. The actual language of the proposals and the supporting reports will not be available until sometime in January 1999. Further information will be available from the sponsoring entity before the meeting.1

The matters listed below are some of the issues that will be considered at the House meeting; several other matters that are more administrative in nature, and other proposals, may be submitted as late items. The proposals generally fit into three categories: ABA policies on matters directly related to the practice of law; matters of ABA administration and internal policy; and ABA support or opposition in connection with other legal matters.

Policies with Respect to The Practice of Law

Modification of Lawyer Discipline Rules: (Sponsored by the Standing Committee on Professional Discipline and Standing Committee on Lawyer Competence.) Item 115A amends the ABA Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement to provide: (1) for the enforcement of subpoenas issued pursuant to the law of another jurisdiction; (2) for the immediate interim suspension of a lawyer upon a determination of guilt of a serious crime; and (3) for the readmission of a lawyer who has been disbarred only after the passage of eight years and on completion of the bar and the character and fitness examinations.

Law Firm Discipline: (Standing Committee on Professional Discipline Standing Committee on Lawyer Competence, Item 115B.) The law firm discipline item would amend the ABA Model Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement to provide for the discipline of law firms with the possible sanctions of admonition, reprimand, restitution, disgorgement of improperly obtained fees, assessments of costs and fines, and supervision of practice.

Accreditation of Law Schools: Under Item 177C (ABA Board of Governors), the House would adopt procedures for considering reports with recommendations from the Council of the Section of Legal Education concerning the adoption or amendment of the Standards or the Rules of Procedure for the Approval of Law Schools. Also, § 45.9 of the Rules of Procedure of the House dealing with accreditation of law schools would be revised. Under Item 117 (sponsored by the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar), the Standards for Approval of Law Schools and the Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, dated February 1999, would be revised to comply with certain requirements of the U.S. Department of Education’s Criteria for Secretarial Recognition of Accrediting Agencies.

Reaffirmation of ABA Position on Unauthorized Practice of Law: (Sponsored by Jay G. Foonberg, ABA Delegate-At-Large.) Item 105 would reaffirm the ABA’s position that non-lawyers should neither own nor control law firms or lawyers that offer their services to the public and, further, calls on the ABA to direct its attention and legislative and judicial resources to assist in preventing the unauthorized practice of law. This resolution is directed in part at recent cases permitting accountants to perform services traditionally considered to be the practice of law.

Approval of Uniform Laws: (Sponsored by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.) Three acts are proposed for approval by the House. This item is included under "policy with respect to the practice of law" because ABA approval is part of the process of promulgation of uniform laws. Under Item 103A, the ABA would approve Revised Article 5, Protection of Persons Under Disability and Their Property, of the Uniform Probate Code, by adding standby guardianship, a reporting requirement for guardians, and a financial plan and report requirement.

Under Item 103B, the ABA would approve the 1998 Amendments to Article 6 of the Uniform Probate Code to provide for the rights of creditors of a deceased owner in assets transferred under Article 6. Under Item 103C, the ABA would approve revised Article 9—Secured Transactions of the Uniform Commercial Code—to include new security interests that update, modernize, and improve this law.

Standards of Criminal Justice: (Sponsored by the ABA Criminal Justice Section.) Under Item 116B, the ABA would adopt the black letter amendments, dated February 1999, to Chapter 6 of "Special Functions of the Trial Judge" in ABA Standards for Criminal Justice, 2d ed., in order to address the basic duties and role of the trial judge.

Accreditation of Family Law Trial Advocacy and Estate Planning Law Certification Programs: (Sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Specialization.) Under Item 110, the ABA would grant accreditation to the Family Law Trial Advocacy certification program of the National Board of Trial Advocacy and re-accreditation to the Estate Planning Law certification program of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, as administered through its subsidiary, the Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc., in accordance with the Accreditation of Specialty Certification Programs for Lawyers.

Approval of Legal Assistant Programs: (Sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistants.) Under Item 101, the ABA would grant approval, reapproval, and extension of the term of approval to several legal assistant education programs and withdraws the approval of one legal assistant education program.

U.S. District Court of the Virgin Islands: (Sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements and ABA Section of State and Local Government Law.) Under Item 107, the ABA would urge Congress to establish the District Court of the Virgin Islands as a district court under Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

ABA Administration and Internal Policy

Dues Increase: (ABA Board of Governors.) Under Item 177B, the membership dues would increase. The preliminary report did not indicate the amount or apportionment of the dues increase among the members

Addition of Persons with Disabilities to Goal IX: (Sponsored by the ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law Commission on Legal Problems of the Elderly, ABA Commission on Opportunities for Minorities, ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, and ABA Young Lawyers Division.) Under Item 108, Goal IX of the ABA would be amended to promote full and equal participation in the legal profession by minorities, women, and persons with disabilities. Without the amendment, Goal IX does not refer to persons with disabilities.

Renaming of Natural Resources Section: (Sponsored by the ABA Section of Natural Resources and Energy and Environmental Law.) Under Item 102, the name of the Section of Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law would be changed to the Environment, Energy and Resources Section.

Other ABA Positions

Effect of Sexual Orientation on Adoption: (Sponsored by the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, ABA Section of Family Law, ABA Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children, and National Lesbian And Gay Law Association.) Under Item 109B, the ABA supports the enactment of legislation and the implementation of public policy providing that adoption shall not be denied on the basis of sexual orientation when it is determined to be in the best interest of the child.

Independent Counsel: (Sponsored by the Criminal Justice Section.) Under Item 116A, the ABA would recommend that the Independent Counsel provisions of the Ethics in Government Act not be reenacted, but if Congress should reenact its provisions, the ABA would recommend the Act incorporate certain principles.

Campaign Contributions by Legal Permanent Residents: (Sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Election Law.) Under Item 118, the ABA would oppose the diminution of existing rights of legal permanent residents to make campaign contributions and expenditures as afforded citizens under applicable law.

Privacy of Health Care Information: (ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities.) Under Item 109A, the ABA would support federal legislation that acknowledges individuals’ rights to privacy of their health care information and protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable health information from any source.

Enforcement of International Trade Rules: (Sponsored by the ABA Section of International Law and Practice.) Item 100 would place the ABA on record as supporting effective enforcement of the international trade rules governing cross-border trade in goods, services, investment, information, and intellectual property and urging Congress to ensure that adequate funding is provided to the federal government agencies responsible for enforcing U.S. trade laws.

Guidelines for Kinship Placements: (Sponsored by the ABA Young Lawyers Division.) Under Item 112B, the ABA would propose the establishment of guidelines to follow for courts, child welfare service agencies, and participating attorneys in making kinship care placements of abused, neglected, and/or abandoned children.

Controversies in Procurement: (Sponsored by the ABA Section of Public Contract Law and ABA Section of State and Local Government Law.) Under Item 113, the ABA would adopt a series of six basic principles for resolving controversies and providing remedies at all stages of public procurements.

Senior Outreach Programs: (Sponsored by the ABA Young Lawyers Division.) Under Item 112A, the ABA would encourage state, local, and territorial bar associations, as well as affiliated young lawyer organizations to establish and implement Senior Outreach Projects that provide free legal services to homebound senior citizens.


1. Practitioners who would like further information on any of these or other matters may contact the author at (303) 295-8595 or at Copies of the Report are available upon request by contacting the ABA Division of Policy Administration.

Robert R. Keatinge is one of the CBA delegates to the ABA. Comments or questions may be directed to him in Denver at (303) 295-8595 or

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