This page contains Responsive Law's testimony before state legislatures, state supreme courts, bar associations, and other organizations.
Requiring Public Oversight of Lawyer Regulation
The U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC requires professions that regulate themselves to have "active state supervision" to avoid federal antitrust liability. Since most state bars are self-regulating, this decision has a major impact on them. Responsive Law believes that state bars need to be subject to oversight from the elected branches of government so that they can be responsive to the public, rather than to lawyers' perceived self-interest.
Non-Lawyer Assistance and Unauthorized Practice of Law
In some states, innovators in the delivery of legal services—or even those who provide services that are only tangentially related to law—have found themselves charged with the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). Although we recognize that consumers must be protected from incompetent and unprofessional operators, we do not regard such protection as being incompatible with competition. Responsive Law fights unreasonable restrictions on who consumers may use to provide services in fields related to law.
Non-Lawyer Ownership of Law Firms
New models for providing legal services have been slow to develop because of the requirement that capital for innovation may come only from lawyers. Allowing outside investment in law firms could result in innovative new models of the delivery of legal services that could expand access and reduce cost, while still maintaining the legal profession's ethical standards.
Lawyers should not be restricted in their ability to provide truthful information to potential clients. Responsive Law opposes lawyer advertising rules that prevent consumers from having access to information they need to make an informed decision when hiring a lawyer.
Online Legal Services and Multijurisdictional Practice
Online legal services reduce the high overhead costs of a physical presence, reducing the cost to consumers while also making it easier for them to get help quickly and easily. As the legal profession addresses the regulation of online providers, it faces the related issue of lawyers practicing in multiple states. Responsive Law supports wider availability of online legal services and multijurisdictional practice as ways to increase access to lawyers and reduce consumer costs.
Limited Scope Representation ("Unbundled" Legal Services)
Lawyers should be permitted to tailor the scope of their services to suit the needs of specific consumers. For example, consumers may wish to draft their own legal documents, but want to ask an attorney to review their work, or pay simply for an answer to a legal question online. The legal community should be amenable to allowing legal professionals to offer their services on an “as needed” basis.
Protecting Client Rights
Responsive Law's Clients' Bill of Rights outlines rights that people should have when they interview, consult or hire a lawyer. Responsive Law supports legislation that enforces these rights or creates them where they do not already exist under law.
Many people could resolve their disputes without a lawyer if courts were easier to use. By simplifying court procedures and making small claims courts more available, states can help people minimize or eliminate the cost of hiring a lawyer. Small claims courts, which use simplified procedures, are designed to be used without a lawyer. While some states allow small claims cases up to $25,000 to be brought to these user-friendly courts, others have much lower dollar limits. This can force people to walk away from meritorious cases because their case is too large for small claims court but too small to make hiring a lawyer cost-effective.
ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services
This American Bar Association task force was created in 2014 to examine how legal services are delivered in the United States and to recommend innovations to improve the delivery of, and the public's access to, those services. As with the ABA's Ethics 20/20 Commission, Responsive Law has been the only organization to testify on behalf of consumers of legal services.
ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20
This American Bar Association task force was created in 2009. Its mission was to perform "a thorough review of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the U.S. system of lawyer regulation in the context of advances in technology and global legal practice developments." Responsive Law was the only organization to testify to the commission on behalf of consumers of legal services.