In 2018, the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California received a Legal Market Landscape Report  (commissioned by the Bar) (“Report”) to study the ever changing market for legal services. What the study found is that while the wealthy can afford legal services, the less well advantaged cannot. That is,  “…a growing proportion of U. S. consumers  are choosing to forgo legal services rather than pay a higher price.” (  Report at p.7.)

In response to this report, and under the notion of Access to Justice, the Board of Trustees appointed a Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (ATLIS) requesting that it “identify possible regulatory changes to remove barriers to innovation in the delivery of legal services by lawyers and others. ATILS was charged with balancing dual goals: consumer protection and increased access to legal services.) (http://www.calbar.ca.gov/About-Us/Our-Mission/Protecting-the-Public/Public-Comment/Public-Comment-Archives/2019-Public-Comment/Options-for-Regulatory-Reforms-to-Promote-Access-to-Justice

After several months of study, ATILS developed 16 possible options for changing the regulations governing the practice of law in California. Among the most controversial  include:

  1. Allowing nonlawyers to practice law;
  2. Permitting nonlawyers to own or have a financial interest in a law firm;
  3. Permitting lawyers to share fees with nonlawyers under certain circumstances and amending the Rules of Professional Conduct and other statutes governing attorneys regarding advertising, solicitation and the duty to act competently; and
  4. Allow for the development of technology-driven solutions (i.e. the use of Artificial Intelligence) in the delivery of legal services/practice of law. (Id.)

( See: http://board.calbar.ca.gov/Agenda.aspx?id=15281&t=0&s=false)

The detailed recommendations can be found:

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/publicComment/2019/List-of-Tentative-Recommendations-Memo-For-Public-Comment.pdf

These proposals were presented to the Board of Trustees at its July 2019 meeting and the Board voted to put the proposals  out for comment.

The Bar has now opened these proposals for public comment until September 23, 2019.  “The Task Force also plans to hold a public hearing to receive oral testimony. The hearing will take place on August 10, 2019, at the State Bar’s San Francisco office. The State Bar is also working with bar associations throughout the state to schedule forums on the ATILS options during the comment period.” (Id.)

For more information and to submit a comment:

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/About-Us/Our-Mission/Protecting-the-Public/Public-Comment/Public-Comment-Archives/2019-Public-Comment/Options-for-Regulatory-Reforms-to-Promote-Access-to-Justice

I urge anyone and everyone with any comments to send them to the State Bar and attend a public hearing if possible.

…. Just something to think about.

 

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