Legal Opinions & Ethics

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Distinguished Fellow, National Judicial College

Keith R. Fisher

Executive Editor, Legal Opinions & Ethics
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Ethics and Professional Responsibility

New ABA Ethics Opinion on Conflict of Laws and Model Rule 8.5

By Keith R. Fisher

On March 1, the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 504, which addresses the question of which jurisdiction’s ethics rules should apply to lawyers handling matters in more than one jurisdiction. The focus of the opinion is Model Rule 8.5, “Disciplinary Authority; Choice of Law.”

Rule 8.5(a) provides that, regardless of where a lawyer’s conduct occurred, the disciplinary rules of the jurisdiction(s) of admission will govern. The choice of law rules for the exercise of the disciplinary authority of the jurisdiction(s) identified in Rule 8.5(a) are set forth in Rule 8.5(b). Formal Opinion 504 addresses itself to that arcane topic.

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