This past month, several states have taken great steps toward creating a more equitable, sustainable legal profession. The Utah Supreme Court voted to extend the term of its regulatory sandbox to seven years, and also greenlit two nonprofit pilot programs to participate in the sandbox and provide nonlawyer legal assistance to people with medical debt. In Arizona, the supreme court licensed the state’s first three alternative business structures, made possible by sweeping rules reform passed last August. In California, members of the Closing the Justice Gap Working Group continue working toward their own solutions in regulatory reform. In Illinois, the Supreme Court responded favorably to the Chicago Bar Association and Chicago Bar Foundation joint Task Force Report, forming internal committees to provide further input and develop plans for execution of most recommendations. And, to the north in Canada, the Law Society of Ontario approved a five-year regulatory sandbox to encourage the development of innovative technological legal services. Many other states, like Florida, Connecticut, and North Carolina, in addition to Washington, D.C., continue to explore regulatory solutions. 

The momentum for regulatory reform isn’t slowing, but is instead picking up speed. To bring more justice system stakeholders into the fold, IAALS, the ABA Center for Innovation, the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility, the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, and Legal Hackers are hosting a quarterly speaker series, Redesigning Legal, to provide a forum to learn about and discuss the regulatory changes underway, the challenges they face, and the opportunities they provide. We’re bringing together industry leaders and experts to share facts, dispel assumptions, and ultimately equip attendees with information about the greater access to justice these reforms are posed to offer. Please consider joining us for the first session on June 9.
Zack DeMeola, Director of Legal Education and the Legal Profession
May 2021

April 26: "The Legal Profession and the Case for Fundamental Reform: Introduction" in the Volokh Conspiracy 

April 30: "Utah Supreme Court to Extend Regulatory Sandbox to Seven Years" by the Office of Legal Services Innovation

May 7: "Arizona Licenses First Three Alternative Business Structures for Delivering Legal Services" on LawSites Blog

May 10: "Supreme Court Justice Ann Timmer on Arizona’s Sweeping Regulatory Reforms" on LawSites Blog

May 10: "Arizona Court: Non-Lawyers Allowed To Invest In Law Firms" in Advisor News

May 11: "California Bar 'Sandbox' May Rattle Legal Competition for Firms" in Bloomberg Law

May 12: "Utah Sandbox OKs Two Programs Enabling Non-Lawyers To Give Legal Service on Medical Debt" on LawSites Blog

May 16: "General Counsel Intrigued by Nonlawyer-Owned Firms, but Will They Retain Them?" on Law.com

May 16: "Ariz. U's Butler On Tackling Medical Debt Without Lawyers" on Law360

May 16: "For Justice Tech Entrepreneurs, It's Deeply Personal" on Law360

May 18: "A Promising Path to Increase Access to Justice" in Bloomberg Law

May 18: "Opinion: The vulnerable need legal services" in Hartford Courant

May 18: "What Keeps Vendors Away From 'Regulatory Sandboxes'? It Starts With Timing" on Law.com

May 19: "Rocket Lawyer Seeks Non-Lawyer Firm Ownership Test in Arizona" in Bloomberg Law

 
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.
Across the country, more and more jurisdictions are reimagining how to deliver and regulate legal services. Many stakeholders in the justice system—including lawyers, other legal service providers, judges, legal educators, law students, and the public—are curious about these innovations and want more information about how they work and how they open new avenues for more people to access legal help. 

This year, IAALS, the ABA Center for Innovation, the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility, the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, and Legal Hackers are hosting a quarterly speaker series, Redesigning Legal, to provide a forum to learn about and discuss the regulatory changes underway, the challenges they face, and the opportunities they provide. Industry leaders and experts will offer a variety of perspectives and break down common assumptions and misunderstandings, as well as provide information on the nature and scope of the access to justice crisis and barriers to sustainable legal access.
The access to affordable legal services and access to justice crises are growing, yet there remains a sizeable gap between what real-world data tells us and the expectations of and understanding of those in the legal profession. Moreover, new approaches and new technology offer some solutions, but they are not widely known within the legal profession.

To increase awareness, this inaugural Redesigning Legal Speaker Series session will explore how judicial leadership can play a critical role in expanding access to legal services and access to justice. As the ultimate regulator and stewards of our justice system, state supreme courts, in partnership with their colleagues on the bench, have recognized they must lead and are in a prime position to do so. The panelists will explore the status of regulatory innovation, how courts and others are seeking to address the problems, and why state supreme courts and the organized bar must start forging solutions now instead of taking a “wait and see” approach.

This esteemed panel will feature Justice Ann Timmer of Arizona, Chief Justice Bridget McCormack of Michigan, Chief Justice Nathan Hecht of Texas, and Chief Justice Matthew Durrant of Utah, whose conversation will be moderated by Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis of Colorado (Ret.). 
After several failed efforts in the preceding decades, the California State Bar is currently in the final stages of developing a proposed program for licensing legal paraprofessionals. While prior to implementation, both Supreme Court and legislative approval is needed, California is further along in this effort that it has ever been previously. Why? 
 
A confluence of circumstances: an undeniable civil justice gap (documented in the 2019 California Justice Gap Study), which found that 85% of the civil legal needs of all Californians, regardless of income, go unmet; the bifurcation of the trade association and regulatory functions of the state bar, with the sections and more membership-oriented aspects transitioning to a new agency; and perhaps, most importantly, true consumer voice. For the first time, the state bar reached out and broadly sought consumer participation in its regulatory reform effort. These genuine consumer voices, as well as those of clients of other jurisdictions’ legal paraprofessionals and California’s legal document assistants, have been powerful and influential. If there is one takeaway from California’s effort, it's this—don’t limit your working groups, commissions, or task forces to lawyers and other "insiders." Lift up the voices of those who all of our efforts are intended to assist and serve: they are often left out and yet are both most impacted and most impactful by and to our work. 

    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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