Globalization and the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20: Reflections on Missed Opportunities and the Road Not Taken

Laurel Terry


The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 was established in order to “perform a thorough review of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the U.S. system of lawyer regulation in the context of advances in technology and global legal practice developments.” The thesis of this article is that the Commission was much more successful with the “technology” aspect of its work than it was with the globalization aspect of its work. This article offers an explanation for these differing levels of success and identifies an alternative path the Commission might have taken that might have led to greater success with respect to its globalization mission. The article begins by offering background information about the ABA's 20/20 Commission. The next section of the article discusses the current impact of the 20/20 Commission’s work. It then explains why the Commission’s technology work arguably will continue to have a greater impact than its work with respect to globalization. The fourth section identifies a “road not taken” with respect to the Commission's globalization mission. This section includes concrete steps that the ABA 20/20 Commission might have undertaken to make the globalization aspect of its work more successful. The Conclusion to this article suggests that the ABA could still – and should still - undertake these steps in order have a greater impact in a globalized world of lawyer regulation.