Charting the Course for Group Legal Services
Considering the title of this year’s conference, I hope I have some ideas about well, charting the course of the GLSA. Looking back, group legal has always been a great idea. Consumers and those acting on their behalf devise a system to pool resources to obtain better services that may otherwise be beyond the reach of an individual. In fact, it is hardly a novel idea. The concept is the basis for so many industries– insurance, health care, education, and banking come to mind. The concept is undoubtedly a perfect fit for legal services. In my twenty-plus years as a lawyer working in the industry, I have no doubt it is the most powerful tool ever devised for attorneys and clients to find one another.
Looking forward, the consumption of legal services will exponentially increase in the coming years. The access and ease that technology provides will make certain. How do we make certain, Legal Plans and a growing population of prospective clients, receive the full benefit? In no particular order:
- Group legal services must fully embrace technology. If not we will be beaten by those who deliver technology-based legal services without the involvement of a lawyer. This is bad for lawyers and I am steadfast bad for consumers.
- GLSA must increase efforts, on a State and local level, in the professional conduct re-regulation process. A sea change is occurring. Look no further than the clarifications and liberalization of the solicitation rules in new ABA Professional Conduct Model Rule 7.3. See for instance, the Future Reports being published by many Bar Associations. Local and voluntary Bar Associations are debating their place in the brave new world of technology-driven legal services. We have to help these organizations make the natural connection that the group legal industry is built to embrace technology-based legal solutions.
- To reach the highest potential GLSA should double down on conveying its message to the lawyers who are skeptical. As believers in legal plans, we all have heard the excuses. Skepticism based upon laugh out loud, old school attitudes that legal plans are somehow “cheap” and participation will damage a lawyer’s reputation as a pillar in the local legal community. In other words, ego is an issue. Unfounded professional conduct concerns are another excuse. Most importantly a failure to convey how legal plans benefit lawyers financially holds back progress. I suggest the GLSA organizations should concentrate on conferences, articles, webinars– whatever connections we can make—to share the message with all lawyers.
I hope these few ideas help us frame some discussions, so we can come up with even better ideas in Tampa. I am excited about the future of group legal services and the GLSA! See you in Tampa.