ABA resolution latest effort to separate lawyers from clients’ crimes
Under increasing pressure from federal lawmakers and regulators, the American Bar Association (ABA) agreed to strengthen the obligations lawyers must meet when weighing whether to stop representing clients who might be using their services to commit financial crimes.
On Tuesday, the ABA passed a resolution by a vote of 216-102 that amended the organization’s rule on how lawyers should decline or terminate a client who is potentially using their services to further various financial crime schemes. The amendment inserted wording on the obligation—which had long been recommended as best practice in comments to the rule—and converted it to the rule’s “black letter” wording.
“A lawyer shall inquire into and assess the facts and circumstances of each representation to determine whether the lawyer may accept or continue the representation,” the rule stated. The lawyer should cease representing a client if “the client or prospective client seeks to use or persists in using the lawyer’s services to commit or further a crime or fraud, despite the lawyer’s discussion … regarding the limitations on the lawyer assisting with the proposed conduct.”