WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has parted ways with his lead impeachment lawyers just over a week before his trial. That’s according to two people familiar with the situation who spoke to The Associated Press on Saturday. The change injects fresh uncertainty into the makeup and strategy of Trump’s defense team. The departing lawyers, Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, have left the defense team in what one person described as a “mutual decision” that reflected a difference of opinion on the direction of the case. Trump is set to stand trial on the week of Feb. 8 on a charge that he incited the riot inside the U.S. Capitol.
August 1, 2000 Associate Editor Regular News ABA rejects multidisciplinary practices Mark D. Killian Associate Editor The American Bar Association has reaffirmed its position that lawyers not be permitted to share fees with nonlawyers, and that nonlawyers not be allowed to own or control entities that practice law. a nearly 3-to-1 vote, the ABA House of Delegates’ action effectively rejects the concept of multidisciplinary practice. That vote was recommended by The Florida Bar and six other bar associations. “this vote, the ABA House of Delegates was sending a message that core values are critical to the preservation of a free society, and that we must remember our obligations to our clients and to the public,” said Bar President Herman Russomanno, who also is an ABA delegate. “It is in the public interest to preserve the core values of the legal profession. Those core values are: the lawyer’s duty of individual loyalty to the client; the lawyer’s duty to competently exercise independent legal judgment toward the benefit of the client; the lawyer’s duty to hold client confidences inviolate; the lawyer’s duty to avoid conflict of interest with the client; the lawyer’s duty to help maintain a single profession of law, with responsibilities as a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system, and as a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice; and the lawyer’s duty to promote access to justice.” Russomanno said the 314-106 vote at the association’s annual meeting in New York City came after a coalition made up of The Florida Bar and state bar associations from Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey and New York, and county bars in Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) and Buffalo, N.Y. (Erie County) presented a counter proposal to the one developed by the ABA Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice. The panel had pushed for a relaxation of professional conduct rules to allow lawyers and other disciplines to join together as single businesses. The July 11 vote also disbanded the ABA MDP Commission. Russomanno said the commission’s proposal never even made it to the floor, as delegates lined up behind the coalition’s resolution that left intact the current ban on fee-sharing with nonlawyers contained in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The ABA Board of Governors also voted three days earlier to recommend the House of Delegates reject MDPs. “The ABA is, by this action, advising attorney disciplinary agencies to reaffirm their commitment to vigorously enforce their rules, to re-evaluate and refine the definition of the `practice of law’ and to retain and enforce laws on the unlicensed practice of law by nonlawyers,” Russomanno said. After studying this issue for more than two years, The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors in April adopted a position to preserve the profession’s core values, including undivided loyalty to the client and protecting client confidences. In June, the board further agreed to recommend the ABA adopt the same position. Specifically, The Florida Bar affirmed its opposition to lawyers practicing in settings where nonlawyers might provide unsupervised legal services, where fees would be shared with nonlawyers, and where the firm is partially or wholly-owned by nonlawyers. “The House of Delegates, by its resolution, voted lawyers must remain independent and should not be controlled or exploited by any lawyer agency, personal or corporate. No group should intervene between client and lawyer,” Russomanno said. “Although the legal profession is in transition, and those changes include the globalization of the economy, the law firm of the future must have core values. And those core values include independence, confidentiality, loyalty, competence and public service.” The ABA resolution also states that in jurisdictions where lawyers and law firms are currently allowed to own and operate nonlegal businesses, that no other professionals should have ownership or control over the affiliated law practice. Those who served on the ABA MDP Commission had wanted to put off the vote until the ABA’s February Midyear Meeting in San Diego to give more state and local bars time to study the issue. Even a plea for postponement by incoming ABA President Martha Barnett of Tallahassee failed to halt the landslide against integrated practices. Addressing the House of Delegates, Barnett expressed her own reservations about MDPs, but noted the vote didn’t alter ethical considerations prohibiting MDPs which are already in place. “I believe this debate about MDPs is an ongoing debate. It’s been around 60 or 70 years,” Barnett said. “It has come to the House before and the House action is, frankly, not determinative.” What the vote did do, Barnett said, is reaffirm and strengthen the ABA position of being opposed to MDPs. “But in truth it’s not an issue resolved by any action the ABA took today,” Barnett said. “I think this issue will be resolved in a couple of years one way or another,” Barnett added. “Timing is not so much the issue. The real issue is the role our profession has in shaping this debate and shaping a resolution to make sure that what’s important to lawyers in this debate — what we call our core values — that we can preserve our independence and preserve our loyalties to our clients.” Ultimately, Barnett predicted, what will occur is lawyers will shape the structure of those business organizations in such a way that the independence of lawyers is not compromised. The vote also came amid cries from proponents of MDPs that the ABA had abandoned a pivotal leadership role, a move that could balkanize the profession by leaving each state to decide the question on its own. “I am disappointed that the House did not look at this issue with the cold logic that lawyers use to analyze other problems,” said former ABA President Philip S. Anderson of Arkansas. Anderson appointed the commission in 1998 in response to incursions by the Big Five accounting firms and other professionals into practice areas traditionally part of lawyers’ turf. “I was disappointed that there was not more discussion,” said Miami tax lawyer Sherwin Simmons, chair of the ABA commission. “But the will of the House prevails, and I respect that.” Russomanno thanked the ABA MDP Commission for its hard work and for “raising these issues so that the public and lawyers could consider it.” He also praised the “excellent work” of the Bar’s MDP Committee, which was headed up by Richard Gilbert and Martin Garcia. ABA rejects multidisciplinary practices