A task force on "access through innovation of legal services" appointed by the State Bar of California has prepared a report which includes proposals that according to some "could lead to sweeping changes to the delivery of legal services, including allowing private businesses to deliver legal services, without regard to whether the businesses have lawyer ownership or management, provided they are appropriately regulated."
In the report, which will be posted officially in the next few days to open a period of time for public commentary, the Task Force will make a number of controversial recommendations, including allowing non-lawyer legal technicians to provide legal advice and allowing non-lawyers to have an ownership interest in law firms.
The California Bar press release announcing the proposals is here. The minutes of the Task Force's meeting on the proposals are here.
For more information and a good comment on the proposals, check out this article in Above the Law: here.
The underlying force for these proposals is a concern that something needs to be done to provide more and more affordable access to legal services to people in need. As you probably know, there are many studies that show that many (perhaps most) people with legal needs don't have access to affordable representation. Opening the door for some regulated provision of legal services by non-lawyers might help close the gap. Yet, some argue this is not a good idea. And so, the debate continues.
These are not new ideas nor is it a new debate. As your probably know already too, some jurisdictions do recognize "legal technicians" who are trained and regulated to provide limited legal services.
The ABA Journal has more information here. Lawyer Ethics Alert Blog has more here.
UPDATE 8/2/19: for a short update go here.