Utah’s reforms offer model for serving low-income and indigent people, report suggests — from abajournal.com by Matt Reynolds

Excerpt:

The Utah model of reform allowing nonlawyers to offer legal services could be “critical” to serving people who can’t afford them, according to a Stanford Law School study published Tuesday.

The 59-page report by the school’s Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession offers an early look at how regulatory changes in Arizona and Utah have impacted the delivery of legal services. It also examined who is being served by innovations in those states.

 

Also relevant, see this upcoming webinar:

Upcoming webinar -- licensing legal paraprofessionals

Two neighboring states — Oregon and California — have recently come to different conclusions on whether to license paralegals to provide some legal services.

In July, the Oregon Supreme Court, with the support of the Oregon State Bar’s Board of Governors, approved a proposal to allow licensed paralegals to provide limited legal services in family law and landlord/tenant cases — two areas of law with large numbers of self-represented litigants. In August, the California legislature, after opposition from some lawyers’ groups, prohibited the State Bar of California from implementing, or even proposing, any loosening of existing restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law before 2025, effectively killing a proposal to permit licensing of paraprofessionals to provide limited legal services.

This webinar will explore how and why Oregon and California reached conflicting results and identify lessons learned from both experiences.

Register >>


Also relevant/see:

IAALS Panel Explores Alternative Paths to Legal Licensure — from iaals.du.edu

Redesigning Legal: Redesigning How We License New Lawyers from IAALS on Vimeo.


Also see the following items from Natalie Anne Knowlton (@natalalleycat) on Twitter

 

 

Also relevant/see the following post I created roughly a month ago:

In the USA, the perspectives of the ABA re: online-based learning — and their take on the pace of change — are downright worrisome.

In that posting I said:

For an industry in the 21st century whose main accreditation/governance body for law schools still won’t let more online learning occur without waivers…how can our nation expect future lawyers and law firms to be effective in an increasingly tech-enabled world?

The pace of the ABA is like that of a tortoise, while the pace of change is exponential

 

Comprehensive Study of Regulatory Reform Finds It Is Driving ‘Substantial Innovation’ In Legal Services Delivery with No Harm to Consumers — from lawnext.com by Bob Ambrogi

Excerpt:

A Stanford Law School study published today of regulatory reforms in Utah and Arizona finds that they are “spurring substantial innovation,” that they are critical to serving lower-income populations, and that they do not pose any substantial risk of consumer harm.

“The evidence gathered in this report shows that rule reforms can spur significant innovation, both in the ownership structure of legal services providers and in the delivery models used to serve clients,” the report concludes.

Also relevant/see the following article form Penn Law’s Future of the Profession Initiative: Law 2030 Initiative/newsletter:

How A Law Prof Is Training Non-Attys As Immigrant Advocates — from law360.com by Marco Poggio

Michelle Pistone, professor at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, saw a bigger opportunity for online technology after using it to reach law students across the country. She realized online tech could be used to remotely train nonlawyers to become advocates for immigrants and even represent them in court, ultimately helping to combat the severe lack of legal representation in immigration cases. “This is a moment in time when we have an opportunity to think about new models for the delivery of legal services,” Pistone said.

 

Legal technology trends – insights from 751 legal professionals — from wolterskluwer.com
Future Ready Lawyer Survey: new and improved legal technology capabilities are driving greater resilience, improved client relations and higher performance for many organizations in the industry across Europe and the U.S. 63% of technology leading law firms report their profitability increased over the past year – more than any other firms.

Excerpt:

Legal technology report

The 2022 Survey identified industry trends across Europe and the U.S. that show:

  • The increasing importance of technology is escalating across law firms and corporate legal departments;
  • Technology is a critical factor to legal departments in firm selection and retention; and
  • The greater use of technology is among the leading changes expected in both legal departments and law firms.

The need for technology as a key driver of improved performance, efficiency and productivity is undisputed. Yet organizations struggle to optimize their use of technology, signaling improvements are still needed in change management and training on new tools.

Also relevant/see:

Legal trends report – the top 5 trends expected to impact most legal organizations — from wolterskluwer.com

Excerpt:

Challenges include complexity of compliance requirements, higher performance expectations, growing talent tensions and the escalated demand of emerging areas such as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).

Also relevant/see:

Why Successful Law Firms Choose Legal Technology — from natlawreview.com

Excerpt:

What it takes to manage a successful law firm has shifted. A firm’s accolades and long-standing tradition are now just a drop in the bucket for prospective clients.

While some law firms still aren’t sold on the use of legal technology, the top-performing firms today embrace legal technology by aligning their business operations with the digital processes that influence their clients’ daily lives. By implementing modern processes these firms experience predictable cash flow, increased visibility, improved productivity, and increased client satisfaction, to name a few.

 

The Artificial Lawyer Guide to Legal Tech – Autumn 2022 — from artificiallawyer.com

Excerpt:

It’s been a wild ride the last couple of years, but what should we be looking out for as we move into the Autumn of 2022? Here are some thoughts from Artificial Lawyer.

 

ABA cleans up accreditation rules surrounding distance education for law schools — from highereddive.com by Lilah Burke

Dive Brief (emphasis DSC):

  • Recent amendments to American Bar Association accreditation standards addressed definitions of distance education, but Leo Martinez, immediate past chair of the ABA Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, says the resolution won’t change much for law schools without waivers allowing them to conduct extra distance education.
  • The changes, made at the ABA’s annual meeting in August, were meant to clarify language in accreditation standards.
  • The ABA, which serves as the accreditor for 199 law schools and programs, requires waivers for institutions that want to offer more than one-third of J.D. program credits online. But it remains interested in reviewing distance education.

From DSC:
For an industry in the 21st century whose main accreditation/governance body for law schools still won’t let more online learning occur without waivers…

…how can our nation expect future lawyers and law firms to be effective in an increasingly tech-enabled world?

Here’s the pace of change in the world today:

The exponential pace of change is like warp speed for the U.S.S. Enterprise (Star Trek) or the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon (Star Wars).

Yet here’s the pace that the American Bar Association (@ABAesq) has been taking — and continues to take — at least in the area of supporting online-based learning as well as in developing sandboxes/new methods of improving access to justice (#A2J):

.

It’s high time the ABA did their research re: online-based learning and majorly picked up their pace. Undergraduate online-based education started back in the late 1990’s for crying out loud! (And the number of students taking one or more of their courses completely online has been increasing ever since that time.)

Plus, many law school students are adults who have jobs as well as families. They often don’t have the time nor the money to travel to campuses in order to take part in something that they could have easily accomplished online.

It’s also appropriate to recognize here that the current learning ecosystems out there continue to move more towards hybrid/blended learning models as well as a hyflex model. 

The ABA is not serving law school students nor our citizenry well at all in this regard.

 

How Neural Nets Are Liberating Legal Search from the Keyword Prison — from lawnext.com by Bob Ambrogi

Excerpt:

Why does this matter? Because in legal search, we should be able to search concepts and circumstances. We should be able to search for legal holdings or fact patterns even when the words do not square up.

That is the keyword prison in which we remain locked.

Well, your liberator is here, and she comes in the form of the neural network. It is technology that enables search queries to find highly relevant results, even when the results contain not even one of the search terms.

Not only do neural nets free search from the constraints of keywords, but they also humanize it, making search operations function more like our brains – thus the “neural” moniker.

 

Mixed reactions as ABA considers tossing LSAT mandate — from highereddive.com by Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
Comments are pouring in from law professors, students and test prep companies as the association ponders chucking the exam requirement.

Excerpt:

The American Bar Association’s proposal to remove requirements that applicants submit entrance exam scores — notably the Law School Admission Test — has so far drawn a mixed reaction from legal professionals and academics.

Pro Bono Net Launches Redesigned LawHelp.org — from connectingjusticecommunities.com by Jessica Darling

Excerpt:

Pro Bono Net is pleased to announce the launch of the redesigned and expanded LawHelp.org, the national gateway to nonprofit legal aid resources and referrals in the U.S. This inviting and inclusive redesign allows users to more easily find and access help for fundamental legal  needs.

LawHelp.org was created to help people without lawyers understand their rights, make informed decisions, and connect to help in their local community. This national platform provides referrals to trusted civil legal aid resources in every U.S. state and territory, including a network of 20 statewide legal information portals developed using the LawHelp platform.



 

The Finalists of the American Legal Technology Awards Are…! — from artificiallawyer.com

Excerpt:

After receiving 225 submissions across eight categories, the American Legal Technology Awards have today announced the lucky finalists. They include a wide range of companies and individuals, ranging from judges, to law firms, to startups and larger legal tech businesses. So, without further ado, here are the finalists in the table below, with three finalists in each category.

Looking For Trouble And Finding It: The ABA Resolution To Condemn Non-Lawyer Ownership — from professionalresponsibility.fkks.com by Ron Minkoff

Excerpt:

At the ABA Annual Meeting last week, the Illinois State Bar Association (“ISBA”), the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”), and several ABA entities sponsored Local Resolution 402 (hereafter, the “ISBA Resolution”) in an effort to stop the entire ABA – if not the entire American legal profession – from permitting non-lawyer ownership of law firms, in any form.  The ISBA Resolution read as follows:

Teaching (and Pressuring) Law Professors to Teach Technology – Katie Brown (TGIR Ep. 171) — from legaltechmonitor.com by

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In her view, law professors “are required to educate people so that they can go out into the practice and successfully do that. And so beyond just, rule 1.1 with legal technology and having that competency, for us as law schools, I think we have an ethical obligation to be teaching legal technology.” This approach needs to be embedded into the Law School’s culture, because it costs money, time, and effort to do correctly.

From DSC:
Agree. I completely agree.

Understanding The Justice Gap — from medium.com by Kevin Golembiewski

Excerpt:

The law is a language. Pleading, cause of action, discovery, hearsay, res judicata, statute of limitations, civil procedure. To understand and protect your legal rights, you must learn this language and the complex rules that govern it. Or you must find an interpreter — that is, a lawyer. No different than if you were in a foreign country without an interpreter, if you have a legal problem but no lawyer, you cannot advocate for yourself.

That is the reality for millions of low-income Americans, according to a recent study by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). About 50 million Americans have household incomes below 125% of the poverty threshold, and 92% of them do not have any, or enough, legal help for their civil legal issues — issues that range from eviction to domestic violence to disability benefits. Those Americans are stranded in the land of the law without an interpreter.

Litera releases The Changing Lawyer Report 2022 at ILTACON — from legalitprofessionals.com

Key takeaways

The five trends to watch, with some representative data points from the report include:

  1. Allied professionals (process managers, technologists, data analysts, etc.) play a more significant role in supporting law firms and lawyers and enhancing legal service delivery. 83% of lawyers believe that allied professionals make their job easier.
  2. Automation is everywhere, as law firms turn to AI and other technologies to enhance the speed and accuracy of legal processes across all practice areas. 91% of lawyers expect AI-based document review to become a standard part of most M&A due diligence processes.
  3. Technology and data improve client service delivery by providing real-time insights about law firm performance, pricing and budgeting, and work allocation. 78% of lawyers agree that technology helps them offer a better client experience.
  4. Cloud-based solutions are taking over, driven partly by the obvious need for remote and blended workplace access to law firm applications that arose during the pandemic. Leading types of cloud applications that have been moved to the cloud include financial and practice management (64% of firms), document management (53%), portals and intranets (35%), and business intelligence platforms (31%).
  5. Changing work expectations are a significant driver of technology adoption when lawyer recruitment and retention are challenges for law firms. A new generation of lawyers sees technology as a path to better work/life balance. 53% of lawyers ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ with the statement technology makes my job more enjoyable.
 

#ILTACON22 Day One Roundup: News from DISCO, Docket Alarm, LexFusion, Relativity and Reveal — from legaltechmonitor.com by Bob Ambrogi

Excerpt:

[8/22/22] kicks off the first full day of ILTACON22, the annual conference of the International Legal Technology Association. Already, the day has brought a slew of news announcements from legal technology companies.

Here is a roundup of news announced this morning.

 

ABA’s Profile of the Legal Profession for 2022 — from americanbar.org

Here’s What the Legal Profession Looks Like in 2022 — from legaltechmonitor.com by Laura Bagby

Excerpt:

White, male attorneys continue to make up the majority of lawyers in the U.S., according to the ABA’s Profile of the Legal Profession, an annual report on diversity in the legal profession that was released last month.

However, the number of female attorneys and those from underrepresented ethnic and racial communities is growing, especially among law students and associates.

California Takes Up Law Firm Ownership Fight After ABA Sidesteps — from news.bloomberglaw.com by Sam Skolnik

Excerpt:

The fight to overhaul law firm ownership limits is moving to California after the American Bar Association sided against major changes.

State lawmakers are set to vote before the end of the month on legislation that would allow the California bar to test new legal service models to make them more affordable. An amended version of the bill would still prevent non-lawyer companies from co-owning firms, however, and ban the sharing of legal fees with non-lawyers.

Founded Just Eight Months Ago, Redgrave Data Reports ‘Enormous’ Growth in its E-Discovery and Data Services Company — from lawnext.com by Bob Ambrogi

Excerpt:

Now, eight months after its launch, Redgrave Data is reporting that it has seen enormous growth, bringing on multiple anchor clients that include some of the world’s largest tech companies — although it is not naming names — and says it plans to establish a “significant presence” in Germany by the end of the year to serve clients there and globally.

 

Increasing Access to Justice — from law.upenn.edu

Excerpt:

By his second year of law school, Willis had created the idea for the Fellowship and, with the support of several key partners, was able to launch the program and begin to pursue the mission of connecting people dedicated to using innovative ideas to expand access to the justice system.

To ensure that the program remained truly inclusive and diverse, Willis has prioritized building relationships with law student affinity groups at different schools across the country. Having personally served on the board for the National Black Law Students Association, Willis knows the value of those personal connections and prioritizes promoting equity within the access to justice technology space.

“The goal really is to try to build community around this group of innovators who will address these structural issues within our legal system to really improve services for the most vulnerable populations and communities,” Willis said. “There’s always more work to be done, but I’m really proud of the changemakers who have come through the program and who are really making a name for themselves and working on important impact work.”

Also relevant/see:

As States Toy With Reform, Legal Tech Cos. Fill Justice Gap — from law360.com by Sarah Martinson; with thanks to Penn Law Future of the Profession Initiative

Excerpt:

More than 100 legal technology companies have formed in the last 10 years to provide legal assistance to millions of Americans who can’t afford an attorney, helping to bridge a gap in access to justice, while less than a handful of states have taken action to expand the practice of law.

According to the Legal Services Corporation’s 2022 Justice Gap Study, low-income Americans do not get adequate legal help for 92% of their substantial civil legal problems and the cost of legal assistance is a barrier.

 

America’s Lawyerless Courts — from americanbar.org by Anna E. Carpenter, Colleen F. Shanahan, Jessica K. Steinberg, and Alyx Mark

Excerpt:

Our research reveals an unavoidable truth: The civil justice system is broken in state civil courts. There is a massive disconnect between what courts were designed to do—solve legal disputes through lawyer-driven, adversarial litigation—and what these courts are asked to do today—help people without lawyers navigate complex social, economic and interpersonal challenges, most of which are deeply tied to structural inequality. As one judge we observed told a courtroom full of litigants, “This courtroom is like the emergency room.”

Five key findings from our work highlight the scope and nature of the crisis: State civil courts are primarily lawyerless, traditional adversary litigation has largely disappeared, the judicial role is not working, the law is not developing, and people’s court experiences amplify inequality and human suffering.

 

I think we’ve run out of time to effectively practice law in the United States of America [Christian]


From DSC:
Given:

  • the accelerating pace of change that’s been occurring over the last decade or more
  • the current setup of the legal field within the U.S. — and who can practice law
  • the number of emerging technologies now on the landscapes out there

…I think we’ve run out of time to effectively practice law in the U.S. — at least in terms of dealing with emerging technologies. Consider the following items/reflections.


Inside one of the nation’s few hybrid J.D. programs — from highereddive.com by Natalie Schwartz
Shannon Gardner, Syracuse law school’s associate dean for online education, talks about the program’s inaugural graduates and how it has evolved.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In May, Syracuse University’s law school graduated its first class of students earning a Juris Doctor degree through a hybrid program, called JDinteractive, or JDi. The 45 class members were part of almost 200 Syracuse students who received a J.D. this year, according to a university announcement.

The private nonprofit, located in upstate New York, won approval from the American Bar Association in 2018 to offer the three-year hybrid program.

The ABA strictly limits distance education, requiring a waiver for colleges that wish to offer more than one-third of their credits online. To date, the ABA has only approved distance education J.D. programs at about a dozen schools, including Syracuse.

Many folks realize this is the future of legal education — not that it will replace traditional programs. It is one route to pursue a legal education that is here to stay. I did not see it as pressure, and I think, by all accounts, we have definitely proven that it is and can be a success.

Shannon Gardner, associate dean for online education  


From DSC:
It was March 2018. I just started working as a Director of Instructional Services at a law school. I had been involved with online-based learning since 2001.

I was absolutely shocked at how far behind law schools were in terms of offering 100% online-based programs. I was dismayed to find out that 20+ years after such undergraduate programs were made available — and whose effectiveness had been proven time and again — that there were no 100%-online based Juris Doctor (JD) programs in the U.S. (The JD degree is what you have to have to practice law in the U.S. Some folks go on to take further courses after obtaining that degree — that’s when Masters of Law programs like LLM programs kick in.)

Why was this I asked? Much of the answer lies with the extremely tight control that is exercised by the American Bar Association (ABA). They essentially lay down the rules for how much of a law student’s training can be online (normally not more than a third of one’s credit hours, by the way).

Did I say it’s 2022? And let me say the name of that organization again — the American Bar Association (ABA).

Graphic by Daniel S. Christian

Not to scare you (too much), but this is the organization that is supposed to be in charge of developing lawyers who are already having to deal with issues and legal concerns arising from the following technologies:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) — Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), algorithms, bots, and the like
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) and/or the Internet of Everything (IoE)
  • Extended Reality (XR) — Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Holographic communications
  • Big data
  • High-end robotics
  • The Metaverse
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • NFTs
  • Web3
  • Blockchain
  • …and the like

I don’t think there’s enough time for the ABA — and then law schools — to reinvent themselves. We no longer have that luxury. (And most existing/practicing lawyers don’t have the time to get up the steep learning curves involved here — in addition to their current responsibilities.)

The other option is to use teams of specialists, That’s our best hope. If the use of what’s called nonlawyers* doesn’t increase greatly, the U.S. has little hope of dealing with legal matters that are already arising from such emerging technologies. 

So let’s hope the legal field catches up with the pace of change that’s been accelerating for years now. If not, we’re in trouble.

* Nonlawyers — not a very complimentary term…
I hope they come up with something else.
Some use the term Paralegals.
I’m sure there are other terms as well. 


From DSC:
There is hope though. As Gabe Teninbaum just posted the resource below (out on Twitter). I just think the lack of responsiveness from the ABA has caught up with us. We’ve run out of time for doing “business as usual.”

Law students want more distance education classes, according to ABA findings — from abajournal.com by Stephanie Francis Ward

Excerpt:

A recent survey of 1,394 students in their third year of law school found that 68.65% wanted the ability to earn more distance education credits than what their schools offered.


 

Trends in State Courts — from ncsc.org

Excerpt:

Trends in State Courts is an annual, peer-reviewed publication that highlights innovative practices in critical areas that are of interest to courts, and often serves as a guide for developing new initiatives and programs and informing and supporting policy decisions. Trends in State Courts is the only publication of its kind and enjoys a wide circulation among the state court community.

Trends in State Courts 2022
External events continue to drive change and innovation in the courts. The 2022 edition of Trends in State Courts highlights post-pandemic eviction courts and eliminating racism and bias in the courts.


Also from ncsc.org:

The key role of non-lawyer practitioners — by Dimarie Alicea-Lozada

Excerpt:

Over the last 20 years, a variety of different states have developed efforts to try to provide for non-lawyer practitioners with varying degrees of success. The intention was simple: provide affordable legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney but need help. With 1 out of 10 people in the United States involved in newly filed cases each year and 3 out of 5 in civil cases not having a lawyer, state courts have been trying to help people who otherwise will not be able to afford access legal representation. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, several states have made changes in this area.


 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian