An important piece of regulatory reform efforts around the country involves expanding the number and types of providers able to offer legal services. This approach reflects two realities. First, there are simply not enough attorneys to meet the demand for legal services. Second, not all legal issues or tasks within a legal matter demand the expertise of a licensed attorney.

New York is the latest state considering how other qualified and regulated professionals may provide limited legal services to people in need. The New York state court’s Working Group on Regulatory Innovation has unanimously recommended the creation of a program that would train and license social workers to provide limited legal services. Social workers are already employed by many legal services providers and are also part of interdisciplinary service networks outside traditional routes to legal help. New York also has a robust Navigator Program involving lay partners.

Efforts like these—and those in other states—highlight the potential value that non-JD holding providers can add to the legal services ecosystem. Recognizing that attorneys do not hold a monopoly in being able to provide value to consumers is a driving force behind growing national efforts to dismantle this harmful, closed ecosystem.
Natalie Knowlton, Director of Special Projects
February 2021

January 2021: "Quality Metrics for Regulatory Reform" in The Practice

January 14:
"California Bar Panel Weighs Legal Service Delivery Experiments" in 
Bloomberg Law

January 14: "ABA launches initiative to help measure effectiveness of regulatory reforms" in ABA Journal

January 15: "Getting More Legal Help to Californians" in The Recorder

January 24: "Could 2021 Be The Year of Civil Justice Reform" in Law360

January 24: "Studying Justice or Hurting It: The Fight Over A2J Research" in Law360

January 26: "Citing access to justice, Arizona decided to embrace controversial alternative business structures" in ABA Journal

January 26: "Utah became first state to change ethics regulations to allow for alternative business structures" in ABA Journal

February 2: "UK is Proof Nonlawyer Ownership Threatens Legal Profession" in Law360

February 5: "Where 5 States Stand on Nonlawyer Practice of Law Regs" in Law360

February 8: "New York may license social workers to handle some legal tasks" in ABA Journal


Visit our Knowledge Center to track what's happening around the country and the world when it comes to legal regulation, as well as submit information and sign up for notifications.
Last February, IAALS launched the Future of Legal Services speaker series, which brought together perspectives from the legal profession, academy, technology sector, and abroad to discuss the role of regulatory reform in the fight to achieve justice for all. After the COVID-19 pandemic rendered an in-person series impossible, the series went virtual and reached over 400 people across the country. Now, we are pleased to announce we are offering replays of each session this March for CLE credit. We are also pleased to announce a similar series, presented in conjunction with the ABA and Legal Hackers, will begin in 2021—more details coming soon!
March 2 & 4 at 11 a.m. MST

Bill Henderson
, one of the most influential thought leaders in legal education and an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, discusses how bar associations have struggled to put forth a unified approach when it comes to regulatory reform, and how it’s fallen to state supreme courts to chart a way forward.

Register here for Bill’s sessions on March 2 or March 4.
March 9 & 10 at 11 a.m. MST

Legal industry leaders and access to justice advocates Rohan Pavuluri (Co-Founder/CEO, Upsolve), Andrea S. Jarmon (Founder, Jarmon Law Group), and Andrew Arruda (Former Co-Founder/CEO, ROSS Intelligence), discuss how regulatory reform—and the innovative and diverse ecosystems such reform can create—can help address issues of racial injustice.

Register here for the racial justice panel’s sessions on March 9 or March 10
March 16 at 11 a.m. MST & March 18 at 11 a.m. MDT

Panelists Crispin Passmore (Founder/Principle, Passmore Consulting), Will Morrison (Strategic Policy Counsel, Law Society of Ontario), and Abigail Moy (Director, Legal Empowerment Network)—moderated by David Lat (Founding Editor, Above the Law)—discuss how programs and regulations in other countries have opened up ways for people to access the justice system, including examples from England, Wales, and Ontario, and community legal workers around the globe who are equipped with the training and skills they need to help the public.

Register here for the international panel’s sessions on March 16 or March 18
March 23 & 24 at 11 a.m. MDT

Dan Rodriguez
, former dean of Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, discusses why our balkanized system of professional regulation makes it much more difficult to meet the demand for legal services, and how states can join together and offer more legal services to those in need without opening up the public to the risk of harm.

Register here for Dan’s sessions on March 23 or March 24
The law does not belong to lawyers. It belongs to everyone in this country who needs the law’s protection, who wants to use the law to improve their lives, or who finds themselves in court against their will. And yet, lawyers tend to monopolize every debate about who should be able to use the law to help other people.
 
We need to change that. Lawyers have an invaluable perspective. But there is a much larger universe of people who see the human impact of this country's access to justice crisis every day. They are librarians, legal document assistants, social workers, paralegals, community organizers, tenant advocates, and many others. Many have a keen understanding of the kind of legal help people need and stand ready to help provide it. It’s long past time for lawyers to accept the need to put these voices at center stageand to accept the limits of their own perspective.
    IAALS is a national, independent research center dedicated to facilitating continuous improvement and advancing excellence in the American legal system. Our mission is to forge innovative and practical solutions to problems within the American legal system. 


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