JOTWELLOctober 2022 — Professor Emerita Laurel Terry recently published a JOTWELL review entitled, “Is Climate Change Really A Lawyer Regulation Issue?” She reviewed Professor Victor Flatt’s law review article entitled, “Disclosing the Danger: State Attorney Ethics Rules Meet Climate Change.” In doing so, she drew upon her work with an International Bar Association committee that prepared a paper entitled “Legal Services and Climate Change.”

Professor Terry’s review began by noting that Professor Flatt’s article provides important perspectives for legal ethics scholars about the intersection of climate change and lawyer regulation. (Professor Flatt is primarily an environmental law scholar and serves as the Co-Director of the University of Houston Law Center’s Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Center.) Professor Terry’s JOTWELL review praised Professor Flatt’s article for the clear way in which he applied his climate change expertise to lawyer confidentiality issues. She noted that his use of two hypotheticals grounded the article and made it accessible to all.

In order to answer the question posed in the title of her JOTWELL review, Professor Terry highlighted several lawyer regulation issues, beyond the confidentiality and disclosure issues that were the focus of Professor Flatt’s article. These include issues related to ABA Model Rule 1.1 on lawyer competence and the degree to which norms may be changing with respect to a lawyer’s accountability for client action. (See, e.g., Law Students for Climate Accountability, which has issued “scorecards” for law firms and has recommended boycotts).

Professor Terry’s JOTWELL review cited additional information sources related to climate change and lawyer regulation, including the ABA’s 2019 climate change Resolution 111, climate change resources from the Law Society of England and Wales, and a free IBA CLE webinar on climate change and lawyer regulation, which featured Professor Flatt, among others. (Not cited in her article, but relevant, is the fact that Professor Flatt will be a speaker at the 2022 International Conference of Legal Regulators meeting, where Professor Terry will also be speaking.)

Professor Terry ultimately answered “yes” to the question of whether climate change is a lawyer regulation issue. She ended her JOTWELL review by stating that “the time has come for all lawyers to consider not only how climate change might affect their personal lives, but how it could affect their professional lives and lawyer regulation.”

Professor Emerita Laurel S. Terry, who held the inaugural H. Laddie Montague, Jr. Chair in Law and was Dickinson Law’s inaugural Associate Dean for Research and New Faculty Development, is a three-time Fulbright recipient who writes and speaks about the impact of globalization on the legal profession, especially with respect to regulatory issues. Her scholarship has identified emerging issues for the legal profession and urged stakeholder engagement, new initiatives, and regulatory reform. In addition to speaking at academic and professional conferences, she has been invited to speak about her scholarship to organizations that include the Conference of Chief Justices, the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the National Organization of Bar Counsel, the National Conference of Bar Presidents, the CCBE, which represents EU’s legal profession and legal regulators, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the International Institute of Law Association Chief Executives, the International Bar Association, and the International Conference of Legal Regulators.