Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Illinois creates task force for regulatory reform

This fall I have discussed regulatory reform efforts in California (here, here, here, and here), Utah (here and here), Arizona (here) and Oregon (here).

Now we can add Illinois to the list.  Last month, the Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Foundation announced the creation of a task force that will work to identify regulatory reform recommendations to provide enhanced access and more affordable legal services to the public, while also working to make the practice of law more innovative and sustainable for lawyers.

You can get more information on the task force here and here.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Update on rules revisions

Faughan on Ethics has a short update on efforts to adopt Model Rule 8.4(g) around the country and on revisions on the rules regarding advertising and solicitation.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Podcast: Bill Henderson on the Institute for the Future of Law Practice

The Legal Talk Network's most recent Law Technology Now Podcast features Bill Henderson, professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, editor of Legal Evolution, and co-founder of the Institute for the Future of Law Practice.

In it Prof. Henderson shares highlights from his professional career and (starting at about the 15:30 minute mark) discusses the motivation behind the founding of IFLP which was created to facilitate programs and internships that help both law students and practicing lawyers develop skills that complement traditional legal education.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the play button below or by going here.

Georgia likely to become the next state to agree that "competence" should include competence related to "technology"

As I have written before, I am sure that by now you know that the Model Rules were amended a few years ago to include a comment about the use of "technology" in the practice of law.  Specifically, it says that it is part of the duty of competence to understand how to use, and the risks of using, "technology" in the practice of law. 

In response, 37 states have formally adopted some version of the ABA model rule's comment.  Georgia may be the next one. The Board of Governors of the State Bar recently voted to approve proposed changes to the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct that would adopt the duty of technology competence. The proposed changes will now be published for a 30-day comment period and then submitted for approval to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Law Sites has more information here.

Comment on programs that allow non lawyers to provide legal services

Long time readers of this blog know I have posted many stories on efforts around the country to provide more access to legal services, particularly by allowing non lawyers to provide some of those services.  A couple of states have implemented new rules to provide licensing to so called "Limited License Legal Technicians" (LLLTs) who are now allowed to provide legal services without the supervision of a lawyer in limited types of cases.  For some of my posts on this go to the section on innovation or the section on regulation.

I am writing about this today because the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System has posted a comment on the programs and proposals that allow (or would allow) non lawyers to provide legal services in order to improve access to legal services. 

Among other things, the author points out that although LLLT programs are good in theory, some argue they have proven to be a failure because they have not reached the people it was designed to reach, which has been a lingering argument against them since they were first proposed many years ago in Washington state.

Hopefully, however, we will have some actual data we can use to reach a conclusion on this argument.  The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) will soon begin a year long process to evaluate Washington state’s LLLT program. Although the program has been around for five years, it’s only been in the last few that NCSC has begun looking at its efficacy.  This upcoming comprehensive review aims to determine, among other things if LLLTs are adequately trained, and if they’re meeting the needs of their clients.

The most important thing it should try to determine is whether the program has resulted in making legal services more accessible and affordable. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Update on the efforts by the Utah Bar to create new regulation that would allow non-lawyers to help provide legal services

Back in August I reported that Utah approved significant changes to the notion of the practice of law and its regulatory scheme (see here).  As I said back then, the report of the Utah Work Group on Regulatory Reform suggested changes intended to improve access to legal services for residents unable to afford private attorneys in civil and family court cases including a proposed increased role for non-lawyers in legal services, including tech companies, and the creation of a regulatory agency to determine how they could help.

One of the main recommendations suggests that Utah loosen or possibly repeal the state’s Rule 5.4, which bans law firms and other legal services operations from sharing fees with non-lawyers.  The proposals were approved unanimously by state Supreme Court, but there’s still work to do, particularly in order to create the administrative regulatory agency, which will be independent of the bar.

To achieve this goal, the Utah Bar will work with the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System which announced last week that its new “Unlocking Legal Regulation” project was devised in part to advance Utah’s plans to loosen restrictions on non-lawyers in the state’s legal system.  According to reports, the IAALS will help Utah develop and test a “risk-based regulation system” based on a model the group created that ensures high-quality services, but doesn’t limit service providers to just lawyers.

However, as I have mentioned in the past, not everyone supports the proposals.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Legal scholars to Missouri Court of Appeals: Give Lamar Johnson his day in court

One hundred and six "renowned legal ethics scholars" (including myself) signed an amicus brief to the Missouri Court of Appeals urging the court to determine that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner acted completely within the “best traditions” of the exercise of appropriate prosecutorial power in seeking a new trial for Lamar Johnson.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch has the story here.

DC Legal Ethics Committee opinion on duties related to impaired lawyers -- UPDATED

The District of Columbia Bar Legal Ethics Committee has issued an opinion on the duties owed to clients and the profession when an impaired lawyer leaves a law firm or government agency, particularly when the lawyer may continue to practice law, regardless of whether clients are, or may be, terminating their relationship with the firm in order to remain clients of the departing lawyer.

You can go here to read the full text of Ethics Opinion 377: Duties When a Lawyer is Impaired.

UPDATE 10/31/19:  Over at The Law for Lawyers Today, Karen Rubin provides a detailed review of the opinion.

Podcast on paralegal ethics

Because paralegals hold vulnerable information in trust, competence in ethical rules is crucial to protecting their firm, clients, and even themselves. But what exactly are paralegal ethics and why do they matter?

Those are some of the questions that are addressed in this recent podcast of the Paralegal Voice, in which the hosts discuss a broad overview of basic ethics definitions and then zero in on best practices for conscientious adherence to ethics rules.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the button below, or (if you can't see the controls below) by going here.