When the American Bar Association meets in Chicago next week, its House of Delegates will consider resolutions on a wide range of topics related to everything from attorney misconduct to intellectual property litigation to pro bono conflicts of interest.
The house, which includes 555 members, will consider 36 bylaw and constitutional amendments plus other recommendations proposed by its various law sections and committees. The proposals will be considered during the last two days of the annual meeting, which runs from July 30 to Aug. 4. The 130-year-old ABA has about 400,000 members, most of whom are lawyers, and is led by the house.
In one proposal from the Criminal Justice Section, the house will vote on urging courts to distinguish between "attorney misconduct" and "attorney error." The recommendation encourages the courts "to refrain from declaring in any order, opinion, or other public statement that an attorney engaged in misconduct unless the courts finds [sic] that the attorney's act or omission was purposeful, knowing or intentional or otherwise violated an applicable disciplinary rule or law."
The house will also consider four different intellectual property recommendations all related to "the defense of unenforceability of a patent based upon inequitable conduct arising from proceedings in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office." While one proposal opposes the elimination of the defense, the other three call for various restrictions on use of the defense.
In another recommendation, the house will vote on whether to urge corporate counsel to work with their outside counsel to waive potential conflicts of interest that would otherwise keep the outside lawyers from working on pro bono projects related to mortgage, consumer and bankruptcy finance. The proposal stipulates that waivers be granted only in keeping with rules of professional conduct.
Lynne Marek will be blogging the ABA annual meeting in Chicago next week. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.