April 2000


SEC Chair Arthur Levitt has praised the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates for adopting a rule that would make it unethical for lawyers to engage in pay-to-play practices, concluding three years of joint effort by Levitt and the ABA.

Levitt said that by voting to end pay-to-play, U.S. lawyers demonstrated leadership on a pressing ethical issue.

"This vote reaffirms the belief that competence, not connections, should be the rule when awarding government contracts," he said. "I now call on the state bar associations to include this new provision in their respective rules governing lawyer conduct.

"I'm not here to preach to the bar about integrity. Your history and your code of ethics make your commitment to this value quite evident," Levitt said, addressing the ABA House of Delegates shortly before the vote. "But, nothing would send a clearer, more unequivocal message on the issue of pay-to-play than your passing a resolution asking lawyers to cut the tie between campaign contributions and selection as counsel in government transactions. The SEC's actions on this issue can do only so much. At the end of the day, the responsibility for maintaining investor confidence rests heavily on the shoulders of market participants--issuers, financial advisers, dealers, and especially lawyers." *

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