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.
by Michaela Reger
Responsive Law has submitted comments to the Utah Supreme Court in support of its proposed reforms to regulation of legal services in the state.
The Court’s proposal (known as the “Sandbox”) would eliminate restrictions on non-lawyer ownership of law firms. For law businesses that choose to include nonlawyer ownership, there would be a new regulatory body using outcomes- and risk-based approaches to balance increased access to justice with actual consumer harm.
Written by Tom Gordon
The New Jersey Supreme Court has declined to review a bar ethics opinion prohibiting lawyers from participating in fixed fee legal services platforms such as Avvo Advisor. The court’s inaction will most immediately impact consumers of legal services in New Jersey, but ultimately could expose members of the New Jersey bar ethics committees to antitrust liability.
Written by Carolyn Mobley
The World Justice Project is an organization focused on improving worldwide rule of law that publishes a yearly Rule of Law Index ranking legal systems across the globe. In the recently released 2017-2018 report, the United States ranked 94th of 113 countries in “accessibility and affordability” of its civil justice system. Additionally, the U.S. ranked lower than all other high income countries in this category. Furthermore, according to the rankings, the conflict-torn countries of Afghanistan, Colombia, and Sierra Leone have more affordable and accessible civil justice systems than the United States.
Written by Tom Gordon
In the face of opposition from Responsive Law, the Virginia State Bar (VSB) has backed off from a proposed ethics opinion that would have restricted Virginians’ ability to use affordable fixed-fee legal services.