by Tom Gordon
A set of proposed best practices for online document preparation software is scheduled to be voted on by the American Bar Association House of Delegates at the ABA Midyear Meeting on Monday.
Responsive Law has submitted comments to the ABA opposing the proposal. Many of the proposed practices would add unnecessary features—and costs—to an industry that is based on providing streamlined services when a lawyer is either unaffordable or just unnecessary.
Beyond our substantive objections, we find it troubling that the trade association for lawyers is trying to regulate (or even suggest regulations for) non-lawyer businesses that are not engaged in the practice of law. As we point out in our comments, it's as if the Alliance of American Automobile Manufacturers set forth best practices for bicycle manufacturers that included safety features that would exponentially raise the price of bicycles. Such a move would be seen, at best, as an misguided attempt to make bicycle riders safer that would backfire by denying most people access to bikes. More likely, it would be seen as a clumsy attempt by the auto industry to beat a competitor through regulation.
I'll be attending the ABA's meeting to try to convince members of the House of Delegates that this proposal is both misguided and inappropriate. Watch this space for further updates.
RI Supreme Court to Responsive Law: Please File a Formal Motion Asking Permission to File Informally
by Tom Gordon
In Rhode Island, the state’s Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee—which consists of thirteen lawyers and one member of the public—recently declared that lawyers were required for real estate closing duties traditionally (and competently) performed by real estate agents. Of course, requiring a lawyer for these transactions does nothing to protect the public, but it does add to the already high cost of purchasing a home.
by Tom Gordon
The MacArthur Foundation has announced the recipients of its 2018 MacArthur Fellowships, popularly know as “Genius Grants.” Among them is Rebecca Sandefur, a professor at the University of Illinois and a Faculty Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. She’s also a member of our Policy Advisory Board.
Professor Sandefur’s work has focused on both quantitative and qualitative research of the civil justice system, providing great insight into the nature and extent of the shortfalls in providing access to justice that Responsive Law is attempting to remedy. The MacArthur committee notes that her work shows that “in most cases, the advantage of a lawyer relative to a lay person resides in an ability to navigate procedures and rules rather than in deep knowledge of the law. Her observations have led to the hypothesis that the gap in access to civil justice might be closable without lawyers.”
The MacArthur committee concludes its citation of Professor Sandefur by pointing out that she “is providing the empirical evidence necessary to guide and implement wide-scale reforms to address the civil legal needs of low-income people.” It’s actually not just low-income people, but people from across the economic spectrum that would benefit from reforms based on her work. Congratulations to Professor Sandefur on a well-deserved honor! I’m looking forward to more of her insightful work in the years to come.
by Jim DiFrancesco
Responsive Law recently submitted comments to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Discipline Committee (ARDC) regarding its study of how to regulate client-lawyer matching services. Client-lawyer matching services allow consumers to find lawyers that match the expertise needed for their case quickly and online, across multiple firms. The commentary focused on how both lawyers and consumers benefit from these services, and how regulation can be implemented to protect the interests of consumers while also promoting innovation and growth.
by Ridhi Shetty
After the State of Washington took several years to study its justice gap with little concrete action to bridge this gap, the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) Board of Governors continues to drag out the process ordered by the Washington Supreme Court in January 2018 to bring limited license legal technicians (LLLTs), limited practice officers (LPOs), and public members onto the Board.