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The technology of the digital age and its impact on the legal system — from jurisdictional questions regarding the Internet to the design of an ultra-modern courtroom — will be on display at the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting starting today in New York City. Over the course of the conference, which runs until July 12 and then moves to London, at least 20 panels will address the Internet’s impact on such things as free speech, privacy, crime, intellectual property, electronic signatures and commerce, antitrust, business torts and securities. The use of digital technology in the delivery of legal services has great potential, said William G. Paul, president of the ABA. “It’s just a great, explosive area in the law,” he said. The emphasis on cyberspace jurisdictional questions is the culmination of a two-year effort by Internet law attorneys, said Thomas P. Vartanian, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. “People are convinced more than ever that technology will affect their lives, their businesses and their practices,” said Vartanian. The nature of electronic commerce transcends traditional notions of geography, making it difficult to sort out which country’s law to apply, he said. Vartanian, along with Temple Law School professor Amelia H. Boss and Chicago-Kent College of Law dean Henry H. Perritt Jr., will present a report on banking, privacy, taxation and consumer protection, called the “Global Cyberspace Jurisdiction Project,” on Monday at 12:30 p.m. New York Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye will also give a tour tomorrow at 3 p.m. of “Courtroom 2000,” a specially equipped, high-tech court at 60 Centre St. The courtroom is outfitted with advanced equipment, including computer terminals at every juror station and an electronic whiteboard for expert witnesses, and is the only high-tech courtroom in the state, said attorney Joseph F. Wayland. Wayland, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, who just completed a seven-month trial in Courtroom 2000, will attend the demonstration, along with courtroom coordinator Brian DiGiovanna. Before moving to London for the second half of the conference, the ABA’s 535-lawyer House of Delegates will take up two competing proposals on the issue of multidisciplinary practice, “one of the most significant issues we’ve dealt with in a long, long time,” said Paul. A proposal by Sullivan & Cromwell senior counsel Robert MacCrate, past president of the ABA and of the New York State Bar Association, prohibits the ownership of or investment in law firms by non-lawyers. It would allow law firms to own ancillary businesses that provide clients with non-legal services, and allow law firms to form marketing alliances with accounting firms. But a proposal by the ABA’s Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice would allow “non-lawyer professionals,” such as the accounting firms, to form MDPs that would provide clients with legal and non-legal professional services. Lawyers and nonlawyers would be allowed to share fees, something currently allowed in the District of Columbia under certain circumstances, but banned in all 50 states. And to prevent MDPs from violating legal ethics rules that put the interests of clients first, the ABA proposal requires that “the lawyers have the control and authority necessary to assure lawyer independence in the rendering of legal services.” A third proposal, made late last month by the New York, New Jersey and Illinois bar associations, was also put on the House of Delegates agenda. It calls for the protection of the “core values of the legal profession,” and includes rules similar to those in the MacCrate proposal, except that it does not endorse law firms owning ancillary businesses, since many states currently ban the practice. The House of Delegates discussion will begin Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. and take place all day Tuesday. OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS Aside from MDP, other recommendations on the preliminary agenda of the House of Delegates are calls to: � Amend the statutory language governing the Federal Election Commission to remove barriers to electronic commerce, and to review laws relating to political activity and the Internet; � Urge Congress and the states to develop laws regulating controlled substances that do not impose barriers on pain and symptom management; � Raise the level of state and federal spending on breast cancer research; and, � Urge prosecutors to adhere to principles concerning biological evidence in criminal cases. The Saturday opening assembly will take place at the United Nations General Assembly Hall with an address by Philip Lader, U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Chief Judge Kaye is scheduled to give the opening remarks. Other speakers during the conference include Gen. Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who will speak Saturday about the role of lawyers as agents for social change, and Elaine R. Jones, president and director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Education Fund, who will be the featured speaker at the pro bono awards lunch at noon on Monday. In all about 9,000 ABA members have registered for the group’s 122nd annual meeting, according to ABA officials. About 3,000 members have registered for the London session of the annual meeting, which runs July 15 to 20.

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