Model Rules of Professional Conduct
IILP believes that the legal profession has an ethical obligation to become more diverse and inclusive. Diversity and inclusion in the legal profession is about more than just altruism or good business; it’s the right thing to do. Every member of the bar should care about this; the lack of diversity and inclusion is a problem for our entire profession. We should lead and not lag behind other professions.
With that in mind, IILP Chair Marc Firestone, and Robert A. Clifford, the Illinois State Delegate to the American Bar Association (“ABA”) House of Delegates, have sent a letter to ABA leaders to suggest that a new section be added to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct under which efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the legal profession would become a matter of ethics and professional conduct. The ABA is responsible for the Model Rules of Professional Conduct; these rules serve as models for the ethics rules of most states. It is IILP’s hope that such an addition to the Model Rules would encourage the individual states and territories to add a similar provision to their own rules of ethics and professional responsibility. (A few states already do this; Illinois, which Clifford represents within the ABA, is one state where the state Supreme Court has specifically included diversity as a matter of professional responsibility in the Supreme Court Rules.) This, in turn, might encourage lawyers who heretofore have not endeavored to advance diversity and inclusion in the profession, to begin to do so.
The letter to the ABA further suggests that the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility develop a Diversity/Inclusion Resolution that could be adopted and made a permanent part of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Such a resolution would then need to be adopted by the ABA House of Delegates. IILP has offered its assistance to the Standing Committee and the ABA to develop the Resolution.
To read the letter to the ABA, click here.
To read the ABA's response, click here.
As a result of the ABA’s decision not to pursue this idea, IILP is planning to move forward with "Plan B." We’re in the process of assembling a team of lawyers who want to become experts in this area and who will be prepared to speak on the topic and lead local efforts. If you are interested in becoming part of this, please let us know at Info@TheIILP.com.