January 2015 Bar Bulletin
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The Future of Legal Services


In November, the American Bar Association Commission on the Future of Legal Services issued an official paper concerning its stated charge: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/images/office_president/issues_paper.pdf.

Although the comment period ended December 10, the work of the commission will continue for some time. The purpose of the Commission is to conduct a comprehensive examination of issues related to the delivery of, and the public's access to, legal services in the United States.

Some of the issues to be addressed include alternative providers (such as Washington's Limited License Legal Technician program), examining regulatory innovations, pro bono services, facilitating access to underserved communities and delivery by small law practices, legal education and training, and diversity and inclusion.

A recent entry by Richard Zorza on his Access to Justice blog raises some challenging thoughts in response to the Issues Paper on the Future of Legal Services: http://accesstojustice.net/2014/12/06/aba-commission-on-future-of-legal-services-comments-due-coming-wed-some-challenging-thoughts/. Points that Zorza raises include access as the ultimate criterion, the outdated nature of state level regulation and structures, the financial obligation of the profession to provide access, management of pro bono services, and legal system simplification.

The matters discussed in the Issues Paper and Zorza's comments should begin a lively debate on how access to justice can be extended to all. I recommend reading both documents. You can follow the work of the Commission at http://www.americanbar.org/groups/centers_commissions/commission-on-the-future-of-legal-services.html.


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