by Madison Swanson
Responsive Law recently participated in a working group to amend American Bar Association Proposed Resolution 10A, a set of best practices for online legal document providers (OLPs). In July of last year, the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) proposed a set of crippling regulations for OLPs that was subsequently withdrawn after Responsive Law assembled a coalition of opponents to block the proposal. The NYSBA amended the resolution and proposed it again this past January, but Responsive Law still found many issues with the best practices the revised 10A promulgated. Therefore, we again mobilized our allies to oppose Resolution 10A.
In response to our opposition and the comments we submitted, the ABA convened industry and consumer groups and bar representatives to address outstanding issues with the Resolution. At this meeting, we made it clear what our main concern with this resolution was: many of the proposals created expensive and unnecessary obligations for OLPs that would raise the cost of the services that OLPs offer. The NYSBA and the ABA claimed that the best practices in Resolution 10A would protect consumers. In reality, they would negate the major advantage of OLPs, which is to increase access to understandable and affordable legal tools.
Overall, Responsive Law is pleased with the changes that were made to Resolution 10A during the working group process. Many of the superfluous regulations that would have increased the cost of using OLPs were stricken and many of the remaining best practices create advantages for the consumer. Our work, however, is not done. Not only are there several outstanding issues, but Responsive Law takes issue with the premise of the resolution. We do not believe that the ABA, a trade organization, should be promulgating best practices for its competitors.
Proposed Resolution 10A, with the changes made during the working group process, will be presented again to the ABA House of Delegates in August 2019.
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 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 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 Tom Gordon
Almost every driver has gotten a traffic ticket at some point. And almost every one of those drivers would have liked to have exercised their right to fight the ticket in court. Most decide not to, though, because of the expense of hiring a lawyer or taking time off to appear in court themselves.