What if lawyers could avoid disciplinary action before a problem even occurred? That’s the idea behind Proactive Management-Based Regulation (PMBR).
This model for attorney regulation is gaining traction. In fact, it officially made its debut in the United States last week when Illinois became the first state to adopt PMBR on January 25, 2017.
Illinois adopted PMBR with the goal of building better legal professionals. Attorney regulation tends to be reactive. A complaint is brought against an attorney, and then, if warranted, disciplinary action takes place. Under the new model though, attorneys regularly evaluate and work to improve their practices in the hopes of avoiding discipline altogether.
Many legal professionals believe PMBR could improve the delivery of legal services in Illinois because it increases attorney compliance with one’s legal and ethical obligations, benefiting both lawyers and their clients.
One of PMBR’s biggest advocates is James J. Grogan, Deputy Administrator and Chief Counsel for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC). He spoke of the overwhelming benefits of this attorney regulation model at the Commission’s The Future Is Now conference last year.
Another proponent of PMBR is Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier.
PMBR promises a new level of protection for the public, and the Court is optimistic that it will be embraced by practicing attorneys with the same level of enthusiasm expressed by the numerous professional bodies that have urged its adoption.
Under Illinois’s new attorney regulatory model, private practice lawyers will be required to consider establishing mechanisms and protocols to avoid the filing of disciplinary grievances and malpractice claims.
According to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 756(e), lawyers, with a few exceptions, must also disclose whether they have malpractice insurance. If a lawyer reports that he/she does not have malpractice insurance (beginning with registration in 2018) and is engaged in the private practice of law, he/she will be required to complete a self-assessment of his/her practice every other year until the lawyer obtains malpractice insurance.
The self-assessment will be an online educational program facilitated by the ARDC designed to inform attorneys about the professional responsibility requirements for the operation of a law firm. The program will provide attorneys with the results of their own assessment and offer resources on how they can improve their practices in the future. Lawyers who complete the self-assessment will also be eligible for earning 4 hours of MCLE professional responsibility credit in Illinois.
The Commission on Professionalism is optimistic about the future of PMBR in Illinois, and excited to work alongside the ARDC moving forward. Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, Jayne R. Reardon, is looking forward to educating and supporting lawyers in this new way.
PMBR will encourage principles of professionalism that are at the heart of the Commission’s mission.