by Jana Jedrych
Access to legal services in California is severely lacking, with the average Californian seeking help for less than one in three legal problems per year. Aware that current regulations and practices are what’s fueling this inability to access justice, in 2020 the State Bar of California formed the Closing the Justice Gap Working Group and the Paraprofessional Program Working Group. These two Working Groups were meant to address a justice gap so profound that per the State Bar's own findings, 85% of legal problems faced by Californian residents receive no or inadequate legal help.
Federal Court Bans NY Attorney General from Pursuing UPL Action Against Volunteer Legal Advice Program
by Tom Gordon
A federal court in New York has granted an injunction preventing the New York Attorney General from enforcing unauthorized practice of law (UPL) regulations against a program attempting to provide free legal advice to those facing debt collection proceedings. The court's ruling is a victory for people without resources to pay a lawyer and for their First Amendment rights to receive information that can help them navigate the legal system.
Responsive Law is proud to announce that Constandinos "Deno" Himonas has become president of its board of directors.
Himonas was a justice of the Utah Supreme Court from 2015 until earlier this month, when he stepped down to join the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Himonas led the Court’s establishment of a regulatory sandbox for legal service providers, which allows innovative business models for legal service delivery to serve consumers in the state.
Responsive Law Calls Out Self-Interested Lawyers Who Dissented from California Recommendation to License Paralegals
by Tom Gordon
In comments submitted this week to the State Bar of California, Responsive Law urged the Bar's Board of Trustees to approve the recommendation of a Bar-appointed working group that the state should begin licensing paralegals to provide services directly to the public. The recommendation was approved by 15 of the 19 working group members, including all the judges, all the public members, and a majority of the lawyers on the group.
Our comments pointed out that the four dissenting members are all lawyers who were nominated to the working group by constituencies that fear the economic impact of competition from licensed paralegals. You can read the comments in their entirety here.
by Tom Gordon
Throughout 2021, the State Bar of California Closing the Justice Gap Working Group has been holding hearings and gathering data so that it can make an informed decision about how to structure a regulatory sandbox, Such a sandbox would allow regulators of the legal industry to test regulatory reforms and gather data about their impact on access to legal help and consumer protection. The working group consists of volunteers—both lawyers and others—from a variety of backgrounds. It is expected to make recommendations to the State Bar in September 2022.
In a December 7 letter to the chair of the State Bar Board of Trustees, the chairs of the California Senate and House Judiciary Committees urged the State Bar to “focus on its core mission of protecting the public by correcting the delays and defects in the attorney discipline system.” This unnecessary pressure on the Bar is not only premature, but also ill-informed.