Brief Urges Court to Uphold New Yorkers' First Amendment Right to Receive Legal Information
by Tom Gordon
In a brief filed yesterday, Responsive Law urged the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to uphold a lower court decision preventing the New York attorney general from enforcing unauthorized practice of law (UPL) laws against a nonprofit providing consumers with free legal advice about debt collection using experts who are not lawyers.
Responsive Law's brief emphasizes that not only does the nonprofit have a First Amendment right to speak on legal matters, but that the recipients of this speech have a right to hear it.
Furthermore, the state's claimed interest in protecting consumers from harm ignores the history of UPL laws in New York. There is clear historical evidence that these laws were put in place at the urging of lawyers to protect them from competition, Consumer protection was merely an after-the-fact justification.
Responsive Law also argues that the state cannot claim that it is protecting consumers when the “protection” it provides cuts them off from the only legal help available to them.
Responsive Law would like to thank Greg Beck for his volunteer work in writing the brief. You can read our entire brief in Upsolve v. James here.
by Richard S. Granat
The New York State Bar has withdrawn its proposed resolution regarding online legal document preparation from consideration by the American Bar Association House of Delegates because of widespread opposition by other ABA entities. These other ABA entities were not given notice of the proposed resolution and did not have sufficient time to develop their substantive positions and make their views known. However, the New York State Bar is intending to resubmit the same resolution to the House of Delegates for approval at the ABA mid-year meeting (February 2019) in Las Vegas.
DC Bill Misses Opportunity to Foster Innovation in Legal Help for Housing Issues
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 James Duffy
Recently the American Bar Association’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services published a paper on how to make legal checkups more effective and widely available to the public. Responsive Law believes the guidelines have promise and issued comments on ways the guidelines could further benefit consumers.
Written by Tom Gordon
David Feldman, a New York City lawyer, has a post in his blog today that concisely addresses many of the issues surrounding LegalZoom and other online legal service providers facing prosecution for the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). His post is worth reading, and gives me the opportunity to raise a few points that I've raised in other places about how the legal profession has responded to both competition and technology.