Statement Re: Action By U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee Supporting Amending the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Title V
November 21, 2005 — The American Bar Association applauds the House Financial Services Committee for taking a decisive first step to address the improper application by federal agencies of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to the attorney-client relationship. By endorsing Rep. Mark Kennedy’s amendment to exempt from the notice requirement individuals subject to an enforceable ethics code, the committee meets its goals of insuring that the public is informed and protected, while providing needed relief to consumers of legal services.
However, other concerns remain. As Rep. Judy Biggert pointed out in her statement to the committee, lawyers are not “financial institutions” and should not be treated as though they are under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Doing so creates conflicts for lawyers and increased expense for clients. It also attempts, inappropriately, to redefine the lawyer’s historic role in society. Congress never intended such a result.
Rep. Biggert has long worked with her colleague from across the aisle, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, to preserve the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality to clients from undue federal interference. We are heartened that the committee leadership has committed to work with them in this Congress to address the concerns remaining in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley privacy rules as they affect the attorney-client relationship. We applaud their leadership and look forward to continued progress on this issue of such importance to the public and society.