North Carolina is just one of a growing number of states considering the regulatory sandbox model as a means through which to foster legal innovation and test regulatory reforms, while also ensuring public protection. While not all of these regulatory sandbox models look the same, the intention is the same across efforts: to create an ecosystem for experimentation.

As we all know, necessity is the mother of invention. And the (growing) disconnect between providers and consumers of legal services is driving this push for experimentation with new professionals and new models for delivering service. The sandbox by itself, however, is not the solution to the access-to-justice crisis. It merely creates an environment in which (hopefully) some of these solutions will be born. It is a means to an end (here, many ends). So as North Carolina, Washington, and other states move forward in their consideration of a legal regulatory sandbox, it is important to remember that establishing the sandbox is only the first of many steps—the first of many commitments.

What follows requires a commitment to transparency, to measurement, to evaluation, and—most importantly—to making meaningful changes based on what we have learned. All states pursuing regulatory reform deserve a congratulatory cheer. But, my friends, we are just getting started.
Natalie Knowlton, Director of Special Projects
September 2021
SeptemberOctober 2021: "Making sense of a shifting landscape: Sandboxes, alternative business structures, and regulatory change" in Bar Leader

September 30
: "
What’s in a Name: The Reality Behind the Rhetoric of Regulatory Sandboxes" on IAALS Blog

September 27
: "
Law Society announces team of experts to support new Access to Innovation project" on the Law Society of Ontario website

September 24
: "In Case You Missed It: Hottest Firms And Stories On Law360" on L
aw360

September 22
: "
How ABA Opinion Shifts Alternative Biz Structure Landscape" on Law360

September 22
: "
Reregulation of the Law: Considerations for Solo & Small Firm Attorneys" on the GPSolo podcast

September 17
: "
Justice Gap Demands Look At New Legal Service Models" on Law360

September 15: "Data from Utah’s Sandbox Shows Extraordinary Promise, Refutes Fears of Harm" on IAALS Blog

September 1
3: "
After Joining GrayRobinson, Former Florida Bar President John Stewart Pushes for Access to Legal Services" in the Daily Business Review

September 8: "IAALS Panel Explores the Opportunities and Challenges of Legal Technology" on IAALS Blog

September 8
: "
Ethics opinion addresses lawyers’ 'passive investment' in firms in jurisdictions allowing alternative business structures" in the ABA Journal

September 8: "Tech-Friendly Legal Services Get Lift on Ownership Rules" in Bloomberg Law

September 1: "Sandboxes and the Legal Ecosystem" on Medium

September 1: "Watch: ‘The Path Forward' – A Fearless Conversation on the Access to Justice Gap" on 5 Chicago

September 1: "Arizona moves to make legal assistance more affordable" in the Washington Times

August 27: "Arizona approves five more entities for new legal business structure" on Reuters
From the Sandbox
Some highlights from the latest activity report out of Utah's Office of Legal Services Innovation
  • 30 authorized entities 
    • 4 low risk
    • 12 low/moderate
    • 13 moderate
    • 1 high
  • 3,500 unduplicated clients
  • Varied types of services
    • 25.9% accident/injury
    • 19.7% business (e.g., contracts, entity incorporation)
    • 15.2% end-of-life planning
    • 12% marriage/family
    • 7.4% financial (e.g., bankruptcy, debt collection)
    • 20% other (e.g., real estate, housing, public benefits, criminal expungement, etc.)
  • 1 harm related complaint for every 1,500 legal services delivered
On October 1, IAALS will open the nomination window for the 2022 Alli Gerkman Legal Visionary Award, which recognizes innovators who have made significant impacts early in their legal careers toward making the American legal system work better for everyone.

The award is designed to encourage and showcase innovators, risk takers, visionaries, and emerging leaders who bring a different perspective and a reform-minded approach to the improvement of our legal system. Candidates should be early in their legal careers to be eligible, roughly the first 15 years.
Nominations for the Alli Gerkman Legal Visionary Award will be accepted through December 1. IAALS will review the nominations and select the recipient, which will be at presented at our Rebuilding Justice Award Dinner in April. Nominations can be made here. 
 
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.
As part of our Redesigning Legal Speaker Series, on October 20, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. MDT,  IAALS and its partners will explore how regulatory reform efforts can strike a balance between broader access to justice, sustainable practice, and public protection.

This panel will include Mike Kennedy, bar counsel for the Vermont Judiciary; Andrew Perlman, dean of Suffolk Law School; and Wendy Muchman, professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Their conversation will be moderated by Lynda Shely, ethics lawyer at the Shely Firm PC.
Register
I began practicing law in the early days of the current liminal age of legal service and have witnessed firsthand the impact that interdisciplinary partnerships and emerging technology can have on the delivery of legal services. Regular readers of this newsletter likely know that the positive effects of new technologies are not evenly distributed; however, I am one of the many professionals working with practitioners, regulators, and educators to ensure that these new developments benefit all members of the public.

Last year, the North Carolina State Bar joined the growing number of states studying regulatory innovations in the rules governing the practice of law to address the staggering access to justice gap, and I am an advisory member of our Issues Subcommittee Studying Regulatory Reform. I recently presented how North Carolina could implement a regulatory sandbox, and our subcommittee recommended that our State Bar Council form an implementation committee with near-unanimous approval. While final approval is not a foregone conclusion, I am heartened that support for legal sandboxes appears to be reaching a tipping point and what that could mean for the delivery of legal services going forward.

    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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