Data Driven Ethics
Data Driven Ethics
Regulations for lawyers conceived in the public interest

Rules for lawyers, conceived in the public interest 


Lawyers are Expert Rule Makers


Lawyers are expert rule makers. Yet our self-governing rules have become outdated in the modern world.

The rules, adopted in 1983, were conceived in the public interest. They define the attorney's relationship with the legal system and the client.

But the attorney-client relationship has evolved over the last 35 years. Our rules must now evolve too. 

Everyone agrees that change is inevitable. But what we don't know is what that change will be.

At the ABA TECHSHOW this year, well known legal-tech luminaries informally convened in a crowded room with too few chairs, but plenty of heart. The invitation had called for a summit about the future of the profession and legal system.

Legal-tech innovators, law school deans, and policymakers sat across from one another and talked about the increasingly urgent need to update the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.


People from both sides of the issue spoke in unison about a desire for data-driven reform.

Notably, one speaker revealed that she had recently relied on the Clio Trends Report to influence Supreme Court Justices in a nearby state.

Think about that. A legal tech company generated a report that was a welcomed source of data by a formal tribunal of rule makers. 

What if change starts with drafting simple, data-driven rules that are based on information that is available now?

The Data-Driven Ethics Initiative invites thought leaders, policymakers and the legal community at large to create a well-reasoned, data-driven minimum viable alternative to the MRPC so that policymakers can start making change happen now. 

Perhaps the future is closer than we thought. Join us!

- Erin H. Gerstenzang and Megan Zavieh.



Technology Survey

DDE is collecting and analyzing data about what is happening in today’s world of legal practitioners and working to bring practitioners into the conversation about legal ethics reform.

Recently, when speaking to a group of attorneys in San Diego about California's new rules, practitioners were horrified to learn that the new rules obligated them in ways that will make compliance very difficult. We took an informal poll at that session to find out how many attorneys spoke up when the bar had asked for public comment before the rules were adopted. Not only did none of the attorneys comment, they never even knew that the opportunity to comment existed.

We must bridge the gap between regulators and practitioners.

One of the most simple ways for practitioners to be heard is by participating in surveys designed to get real feedback about how the rules are either facilitating better practices or, in the alternative, erecting unnecessary hurdles that limit innovation and progress.

DDE is partnering with thought-leaders and legal tech companies to collect survey data from lawyers aimed at uncovering what is happening between lawyers and clients in the modern world and identify the areas where regulation is needed and where it is outdated.

Most recently, DDE partnered with our friends at Above the Law to design a survey which looks at how lawyers are using technology and how well lawyers understand the current model rules as they relate the use of technology in law firms.

We encourage you to take this survey, share it on social, and make sure that we get feedback from lawyers.


The Project

The Data-Driven Ethics Initiative is project that brings regulators and thought-leaders together to create a simple and actionable alternative to the current version of the rules of professional conduct. The mission is to create a well-reasoned, data-driven minimum viable alternative to the current rules so that policymakers can start making change happen now.

This is a research project to compile, analyze and organize data about today's world of legal services in order to better draft the rules of professional conduct to embody traditional legal ethics in today's technology-enabled world.

Data we are looking for


Legal needs a clear path forward

"I am by no means blind to the failings of the legal profession .... I know that we are often too conservative. We don't realize that the world is changing. We don't sufficiently look ahead. Instead of trying to help in so shaping changes that they accomplish benefits with a minimum of disturbance, we often stand stubbornly for the maintenance of methods that have been outworn."

Henry P. Chandler, Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts  (1930).


Join the conversation


Do you love rules as much as we do? Are you passionate about legal ethics and data-driven policy? Maybe you just want to help move the conversation forward? We would love to have you join us.



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