Monday, January 15, 2018

Article on unauthorized practice of law and the possibility of providing access to legal services by recognizing limited legal technicians

Long time readers of this blog are familiar with the on-going debates on whether non lawyers should be allowed to provide some types of legal services.  As you recall, Washington state became the leader in this discussion when it approved rules to allow (and to regulate) the provision of limited legal services by state certified legal technicians (known as Limited License Legal Technicians, or LLLTs) in 2012.  Other states have had similar discussions.  For some posts on this topic go here, here, here, and here.  And, one controversial part of the discussion is whether the resistance from some lawyers, and bar associations is based on protectionism rather than on a concern for the public.  See here, for example.

A few days ago, the ABA Journal online published a short article on this topic called: "When UPL accusations against lawyer paraprofessionals are just protectionism."  Its conclusion:  "It’s time to embrace alternative delivery by removing barriers masquerading as ethical issues or provider ability accusations and refocus the discussion on client demand, not attorney supply."

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Avvo is acquired by Legal Brands, a company that already owns a series of law related websites

Breaking news:  Avvo has been acquired by Internet Brands which already owns legal sites Nolo, Martindale-Hubbell, Ngage and Total Attorneys.  You can read the first announcement here.  Also, go here for comments by Avvo's CEO and here for more information.

This came as a surprise and I have not seen any information on the deal other than what is being reported in the links above.  As of now, it seems Avvo's services will remain unchanged, but it will be interesting to see if the new company eventually introduces changes in response to the continuing resistance by many jurisdictions to allowing attorneys to participate in Avvo's "Avvo Legal Services."  For more on that controversy go here and scroll down.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Vermont adopts rule regulating sexual relations with clients

Ethical Grounds is reporting that the Vermont Supreme Court recently adopted a version of Model Rule 1.8(j) which regulates sexual relations with clients.  The model rule has been in place for quite some time, and quite frankly I am surprised to hear it had not been adopted sooner. 

Florida Supreme Court adopts changes to the Rules

The Legal Profession Blog is reporting that the Florida Supreme Court has adopted some significant changes to its procedural and substantive rules governing lawyers but declined to act on a proposal to amend the rule on Potentially Misleading Advertisements. Go here for details.

UPDATE (1/10/18):  The Lawyer Ethics Alerts Blog has more details on the court's rejection of the proposal related to language expressing that a lawyer specializes or is an expert.

Stories to look out for in 2018

The Law For Lawyers Today has a short post on a few of the top stories to watch out for in 2018 and a couple of them are things I have been commenting about for a while:  the issues related to participating in services like Avvo Legal Services and whether states will adopt Model Rule 8.4(g).  On this last topic, I posted recently here and here.

Another important story relates to the claim that an online service that claims to help people resolve claims related to driving tickets is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in Florida.  This, I think, will be a big story this year because it may have significant implications on the notion of what constitutes the practice of law, and the authority of a state to regulate that practice.  Bloomberg has a very good summary of the issues related to that story here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Nevada retracts its petition to adopt Model Rule 8.4(g)

In my most recent post, I wrote that the Tennessee Bar Association has asked the state's supreme court to adopt an amended version of ABA Model Rule 8.4(g).  In that post, I mentioned that at one point, it looked like Nevada would be the first state to adopt the rule, but that I had not seen news that it had. 

One of my readers then sent me a message with an update from Nevada.  A few months ago, in reaction to the opposition to the proposed new rule, the Nevada Bar backed off its rule change petition in a letter to the state high court declaring “it prudent to retract.” The Board’s request was granted September 25, 2017.