Attorney Self-Governance, Fed. Oversight Clash in Dodd-Frank Act

November 15, 2010Articles The Legal Intelligencer

Over the past decade, financial reform legislation has increased tension between the need for federal oversight and accountability of attorneys and their self-governance with respect to ethics and professional conduct. The recent Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act magnified this tension when the Securities and Exchange Committee issued proposed rules for implementing the whistle-blower provisions of Dodd-Frank. The SEC’s rules consider the regulation of attorneys in areas typically addressed by state rules of professional conduct, including client confidentiality, direct communications with people represented by counsel and attorney fees.

In an attempt to reduce the tension between attorney conduct rules and values and the federal government’s desire for accountability, attorneys have until Dec. 17 to respond to the SEC’s proposed rules.