by Fritz Mulhauser
Winning reversal this spring on four counts of criminal contempt, Benoit Brookens could close the door on his 30-year prosecution for unauthorized practice of law (UPL) in the District of Columbia. Pursued for decades by an army of government attorneys, he was never once charged with harming anyone. His story illustrates the need for the work of Responsive Law.
Written by Lynn Bechtol
Responsive Law testified this week at a District of Columbia Council hearing regarding a proposed bill to expand funds for legal service providers representing low-income DC tenants in housing matters. Responsive Law supports the bill's spirit and objectives, but we expressed concerns that the limits imposed in the bill's text will stifle innovation in the provision of types of legal services available to the public.
Written by Bridgette Harrison
Responsive Law has issued comments to the DC Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law recommending improvements to the District of Columbia's rules on the unauthorized practice of law, or UPL. Responsive Law urged the committee to recommend revising the UPL law so non-lawyers would be able to offer legal services to the many low- and moderate-income people who can't afford to use a lawyer.
Written by Briane Cornish
A District of Columbia bar committee has proposed several rule changes that will facilitate the provision of limited scope legal representation. Limited scope representation makes legal services more affordable to low- and moderate-income individuals, by allowing them to use a lawyer for smaller tasks such a one-time consultation or help with preparing a document. For example, you could agree with a lawyer to pay a flat rate amount simply for review of a contract. Or you could pay another flat rate amount to have an experienced attorney represent you in court on one or several dates (as opposed to throughout your entire case).
Written by Tom Gordon
Michael Frisch of Georgetown Law Center has just written an outstanding and frightening post about an attempt by the District of Columbia Bar to quietly takeover control of the budget for the District's bar discipline office from the D.C. Court of Appeals. Taking over the budget for discipline would mean that lawyers would exercise financial control over its own prosecution for disciplinary violations. Professor Frisch calls this "the most dangerous idea in the history of the D.C. Bar." From a consumer perspective, it's hard to disagree.