As predicted, the recently approved changes to regulation in Arizona continue to generate very good commentary. Here is another good short comment.
In it, the author expresses cautious optimism. He explains the benefits that the new approach to regulation can lead to, but also admits that it is not guaranteed to work and that there is reason to be concerned it won't. The article concludes, that the new regulatory approach
. . . will make it easier for lawyers and law firms to attract investors to their practices, allow technology companies to collaborate better with lawyers in introducing new products, and allow lawyers and nonlawyers alike to explore new ways to collaborate and provide affordable, enhanced legal services to members of the public. If most people currently cannot afford a lawyer, let’s find a way to use technology to provide them with affordable legal services. If most people can’t find a lawyer, let’s encourage technology companies to invest in referral services to match lawyers and clients. If law firms want to give valued non-legal employees like office managers and comptrollers a stake in their businesses so they won’t leave, let’s allow them to do it.
None of this is sure to work. There is more than enough bad history, from non-lawyers who operated cut-rate “legal corporations” which prized volume over quality, to “runners and cappers” attracting personal injury clients in hospital rooms, to Avvo’s infamous “pay-to-play” legal referral model. . . . But all of these problems can be addressed by other Rules and careful regulation. As lawyers, we are justifiably concerned about giving away our control to those who are not bound by our professional responsibility rules – rules designed to protect the public. Yet the numbers don’t lie: by keeping our current regulatory structure in place, we are losing ground. The folks in Arizona recognize that, and have taken leadership, with their eyes wide open to the risks. The rest of us should watch, learn and, as soon as possible, follow.