Is The Legal Industry Changing?
You have heard GLSA talk about change in the legal industry, the future of lawyers and legal services and access to justice for over 2 years now – but what really has happened? Has change occurred? The lawyer answer is yes . . . and no. Change has occurred but not really on a national level as some might have suggested. But don’t take this as change won’t happen and won’t impact you or your business – because it will on both accounts. So let’s start with what has happened over the last 2 years.
The ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services did get the ball rolling on talking and thinking about change as it is imperative that we decrease the access to justice gaps Americans are experiencing. They also worked with states, attorneys and legal influencers to get them to consider innovative ideas and technologies to make the practice of law more affordable, relevant and helpful to consumers. Several somewhat controversial ideas including use of non-lawyers and “outside” companies were raised but in the end, no definitive measures were taken on these and the end decisions were left up to the states.
The Commission finalized its two year run with a report that summarized all of its work and it is worth a read if you haven’t already done so: http://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2016/08/futures_commissioni.html. So although no big regulatory or ethical changes were made on a national level, there is definitely a growing movement in states to look for ways to lessen the access gap to legal services. This was required by all State Supreme Court Justices who adopted Resolution 5 https://www.ncsc.org/~/media/Microsites/Files/access/5%20Meaningful%20Access%20to%20Justice%20for%20All_final.ashx.
The Commission also recommended the ABA create an Innovation Center, which has since been developed and the committee members appointed. The purpose of the Center will be as a resource center for innovation in the legal industry as well as to “foster creative, innovative and ground-breaking approaches to bridging the access to justice gap as well as to improve the delivery of legal services.” http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/aba_announces_plan_to_create_center_for_innovation The ABA will also be working on an ABA Legal Checkup which will provide guidance to consumers on what legal needs they may be experiencing as well as where to receive help for those legal needs. Our current president, Keri Coleman-Norris is assisting with the development of the checkup.
GLSA continues to be at the forefront of this movement advocating for attorneys and legal plans as the way to ensure all citizens have affordable access to legal services. Stay tuned for more on the changes in our industry.