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A message from Ellyn Rosen, Chair, BIC Regulation Committee, June 2021

Thursday 24 June 2021

Dear BIC friends,

With so much going on in the world of professional regulation, the BIC Regulation Committee continues to keep its fingers on the pulse of developments and emerging issues of import. The Committee is finalizing for IBA members a web-based resource compiling hard and soft anti-discrimination law applicable to lawyers as a complementary resource to the IBA’s Report on Bullying and Harassment in the Profession and its critical work in this arena. We are also reviewing an upcoming report summarizing the results of a survey of lawyer regulators on the subject of harassment and bullying.

We remain active in developing and presenting cutting edge webinars for IBA members. Just this month we cosponsored two such programs with the BIC ITILS Committee. We were joined by a representative from the SPPI Regulation and Compliance Committee for one session. I had the pleasure of moderating the first webinar, “Burning Down the House – The Role of Lawyer Regulators in Addressing Climate Change for Domestic and International Legal Services” which saw approximately 130 registrants. This issue is becoming a more frequent subject of discussion in the bar, with lawyers being considered enablers of climate change not just for their own activities, but because of the work they undertake for their clients’ businesses. Pressure is growing on the profession and legal regulators to do more, and this pressure bumps up against the professional principle that lawyers take their clients as they find them. Representation of a client is not considered a lawyer’s endorsement of a client’s political, economic, social, or moral views and activities. I was joined by Professor Victor B. Flatt, Co-Director of the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources (EENR) Center at the University of Houston Law Center, and Lucy Bruce Jones of Norton Rose Fulbright for an engaging session that will help direct the Committee’s work on this subject. Committee member and Chair of the BIC ITILS Committee, Jonathan Goldsmith, is the moderator for our second session entitled “Charting a New Course: Covid-19 As An Accelerator for Global Cross-Border Practice and Lawyer Regulatory Change.”

Charting a new regulatory course is exactly what an increasing number of U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions are doing. At least thirteen U.S. states are studying or have implemented regulatory innovations that include permitting alternative business structures with entity regulation (whether through use of a regulatory sandbox or rule changes), allowing licensed and regulated paraprofessionals to provide legal services directly to consumers with or without lawyer supervision, and loosening restrictions on marketing and fee sharing rules which implicates lawyers’ relationships with unregulated providers and online referral services. In Canada, at least two jurisdictions have implemented regulatory sandboxes. (The Law Society of British Columbia and the Law Society of Ontario). All of these efforts are directed toward helping address the crushing access to legal services and access to justice crises that is global in scope. We will continue monitor these and other global developments.

In fulfilling our mission for the BIC and the IBA, the Regulation Committee is working to break down silos and collaborate with other entities that are studying professional ethics and regulatory issues. Given the Committee’s unique expertise and the rapid pace of change in the professional regulation arena, cross-pollination is more important than ever to best serve the interests of the BIC and the Association. We continue to look for ways to encourage engagement with us, including establishing liaison relationships with other entities and welcome the BIC’s help in spreading the word about our important work.

Stay tuned!

Ellyn Rosen

Chair, BIC Regulation Committee