Law is too important to be left to the lawyers.
This from Richard Granat, a true champion when it comes to harnessing innovation and technology to improve American’s access to legal services.
Granat shared this in a Facebook comment in reference to society’s leaving it to lawyers and lawyer controlled bar associations to decide how legal services are delivered in this country.
By and large, it’s bar associations that decide what innovation and legal technology gets used in the delivery of legal services. Not a great situation for the public when bar associations exist to represent the interests of lawyers who earn by time, not efficiency.
Granat is not alone.
Gillian Hadfield, a leading proponent of the reform and redesign of legal systems and a Professor at USC Law School, commented this week on bar associations limiting access to legal services in, of all places, the American Bar Association’s Law Technology Today magazine.
The economic problem was pretty obvious: our legal markets are regulated by bar associations in a very restrictive way & as a result have failed to produce the kinds of innovation we need to make law more accessible & responsive. – @ghadfield in ABA @ltrc https://t.co/RwNabOGt78 pic.twitter.com/nXRoGtOoKp
— Kevin O'Keefe (@kevinokeefe) May 18, 2018
A week ago, Mary Juetten, co-founder of Evolve Law and founder and CEO of Traklight, a self-guided IP strategy platform, wrote about bar associations driving small legal tech companies out of business on the pretense that legal tech business models violate the unauthorized practice of law rules.
Juetten questioned what the bar associations were actually protecting.
What exactly is being protected by bar associations limiting the delivery of all legal services to licensed lawyers when 80 percent of citizens cannot access legal services for a variety of reasons already? – @maryjuetten in @abajournal https://t.co/W7pYXpgXmk pic.twitter.com/E8IYTmgWEg
— Kevin O'Keefe (@kevinokeefe) May 12, 2018
I have some great friends working with and for bar associations. LexBlog has the honor of working with any number of bar associations.
But should bar associations be deciding what is and what is not legal services that require a lawyer? Are bar associations, by restricting what they describe as legal services to being administered by lawyers, just making lawyers more and more irrelevant to individuals and small businesses?
Is it possible that bar associations by looking to protect lawyers are actually hurting lawyers? With less people looking for legal services administered the way they are, there is less and less work for lawyers. We’re already seeing less lawyers.
While the American Bar Association and state bar associations look to be the hub of discussion on access to legal services, and even innovation and legal technology, there is a growing sentiment that bars may be the reason for the increasing chasm we have in access to legal services.
Robert Ambrogi, LexBlog’s editor-chief and publisher and former editor of the National Law Journal, explained a couple months ago to a Chicago gathering of legal professionals discussing an effort to bring access to legal services, that the American Bar Association and many bar associations could not lead the effort because of their role as a trade organization.
Juetten may well be right that it’s not an “either or” situation, as she tweeted immediately after I published my post. In the absence of another body, bar associations could include non lawyers and private companies on their governing boards.
I think it’s not an ‘either or’ situation but Bar Associations should have non lawyers on the governing boards and involve private companies to accelerate change
— Mary Juetten (@maryjuetten) May 18, 2018
I don’t have all the answers, but I’m with Granat. “Law is too important to be left to the lawyers.