Lawyers and Legal Services

February 26th, 2016 / By

There was a time when lawyers delivered most of the nation’s legal services. That time, however, is slipping away. Businesses increasingly obtain law-related work from contract managers, compliance officers, and human resource directors. Individual clients buy homes, draft wills, file uncontested divorces, and conduct other legal business with interactive software. When those individuals visit the courthouse, they may consult a self-help kiosk rather than a lawyer.

The ABA now recognizes that these changes are altering the market for legal services. The House of Delegates recently approved Resolution 105, which establishes model regulatory objectives to guide state regulation of “non-traditional legal service providers.” The objectives are relatively hospitable to non-traditional providers. They include, for example, a focus on “delivery of affordable and accessible legal services” as well as “efficient, competent, and ethical delivery” of those services. Those objectives would support many types of service delivery by non-lawyers.

The mere passage of this resolution, moreover, sends an important signal to the legal profession: Alternative service providers are here to stay. Have law schools gotten this message? What does it mean for us?


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