Something’s Afoot and it’s Time to Pay Attention: Thinking About Lawyer Regulation in a New Way

Andrew M. Perlman, Towards the Law of Legal Services, Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 15-5 (2015), available at SSRN.

We all know about tipping points…when something that previously seemed rare or unlikely acquires enough weight or momentum that the balance or status quo changes. As I read Professor Andy Perlman’s article called “Towards the Law of Legal Services” it occurred to me that we may be getting very close to a tipping point in the United States with respect to the issue of lawyer regulation.

Professor Perlman’s article argues that the time has come to “reimagine” our lawyer-based regulatory framework. He asserts that instead of focusing on the “law of lawyering” – which is how people in our field often refer to what we study – we need to develop a broader “law of legal services” that would authorize, but appropriately regulate, the delivery of more legal and law-related assistance by people who do not have a J.D. degree. He argues that reimagining regulation in this fashion will spur innovation and expand access to justice. Continue reading "Something’s Afoot and it’s Time to Pay Attention: Thinking About Lawyer Regulation in a New Way"

Forewarned is Forearmed: Anticipating Big Changes for the Legal Profession

I don’t know about you, but I am sucker for technology and “Big Data” stories. I was glued in front of my television when IBM’s Watson took on Jeopardy’s reigning champion Ken Jennings–and won.  I am interested in the work of scholars such as Dan Katz and initiatives such as ReInvent Law™ and LawWithoutWalls.™  When NPR and the New York Times ran stories about how technology may do a better job than lawyers for certain tasks such as e-discovery, I emailed those stories to friends and colleagues. My ears perk up when I read about the coming “disruption” to the legal profession. I often recommend to others Richard Susskind’s book entitled The End of Lawyers? about the impact of technology on legal services.

Regardless of whether you share my fascination for these kinds of topics, I encourage you to read the article entitled The Great Disruption: How Machine Intelligence Will Transform the Role of Lawyers in the Delivery of Legal Services which Professors John McGinnis and Russ Pearce contributed to the Fordham Colloquium on The Legal Profession’s Monopoly on the Practice of Law. In my view, regardless of one’s field of expertise, everyone should read this article and begin to reflect on this phenomenon that will revolutionize the practice of law, and dramatically change all of our lives. Continue reading "Forewarned is Forearmed: Anticipating Big Changes for the Legal Profession"

“Creative Destruction” and the Legal Services & Legal Education Markets

Ray Worthy Campbell, Rethinking Regulation And Innovation in The U.S. Legal Services Market, 9 N.Y.U. J.L. & Bus. 1 (Fall 2012).

If you are like me, you have started to notice—more and more frequently—expressions such as “creative destruction,” “creative disruption,” “disruptive innovation,” and “positive disruption.” Two recent examples include the TEDxCHANGE 2013 event held in April in Seattle which had the theme of Positive Disruption and a January 2013 Harvard Business Review blog entry entitled Creative Destruction Visits the Legal Profession. These terms have also appeared in conferences (see Panel 1) and talks at places such as Georgetown and Harvard law schools and in blog posts by higher education leaders, legal academics such as Bruce Kobayashi, and legal consultants such as Jordan Furlong (see here and here [legal education] and here, here, and here [legal services]). Disruptive innovation has been a prominent theme in the award-winning LawWithoutWalls program, which was founded by Michele DeStefano and Michael Bossone from University of Miami School of Law and in the ReInvent Law Laboratory, which is a creation of Michigan State Professors Dan Katz and Renee Knake.

During the past five years, as I have noticed more and more people using expressions such as “creative destruction,” I wondered what class or book I had missed since the speakers all seemed to know much more about this topic than I did. For this reason, I was particularly pleased to read Professor Ray Campbell’s new article entitled Rethinking Regulation and Innovation in The U.S. Legal Services Market because it provided the historical and theoretical background behind these expressions and because it gave me a new way to think about changes taking place in the legal services and legal education markets. Continue reading "“Creative Destruction” and the Legal Services & Legal Education Markets"

Regulation and Theory: What Does Reality Have to Do With It?

Christine Parker & Lyn Aitken, The Queensland “Workplace Culture Check”: Learning from Reflection on Ethics Inside Law Firms, 24 Georgetown J. Legal Ethics 399 (2011).

Australia is the home to some of the world’s most interesting and provocative legal profession developments.  For example, Australian jurisdictions were among the first jurisdictions to permit nonlawyer ownership of law firms.  Not long thereafter, the Australian regulatory scheme was amended to permit outside investment in law firms.  As a result, Australia became the site of the world’s first publicly traded law firm.  Australia has been on the forefront of other lawyer regulation developments such as the proactive use of ex ante systems of regulation.

As commentators and jurisdictions elsewhere discuss and debate the proper scope of lawyer regulation, many look to Australia’s experiences in the hopes that they will provide valuable information and lessons.  Those actively following the Australian developments include the American Bar Association (ABA), the UK Legal Services Board, and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which is the front-line regulator for solicitors in England and Wales. Continue reading "Regulation and Theory: What Does Reality Have to Do With It?"

Academics Making a Difference: Prosecutor Disclosure Obligations in Criminal Cases

Ellen Yaroshefsky, Foreword to Symposium, New Perspectives on Brady and Other Disclosure Obligations: What Really Works?, 31 Cardozo L. Rev. 1943 (June 2010), available at SSRN.

For years, Ellen Yaroshefsky of Cardozo Law School has been one of the leading scholars in the U.S. on issues related to legal ethics and the criminal defense system.   In an era in which legal scholars are sometimes accused of writing theoretical works that are of little practical use, she has a track record of successful applied scholarship.  Her voice has made a difference.  For example, after working on the issue in New York, Ellen Yaroshefsky and Fordham Professor Bruce Green signed the report from the ABA Committee on Ethics, Gideon and Professionalism that recommended that ABA the Section on Criminal Justice sponsor a resolution in the ABA House of Delegates to add Rules of Professional Conduct 3.8(g) and (h). The resulting resolution, which was supported by a number of entities, was adopted. As a result, ABA Model Rule 3.8 now imposes disclosure duties on prosecutors who know of “new, credible and material evidence creating a reasonable likelihood that a convicted defendant did not commit an offense of which the defendant was convicted” and requires prosecutors to “seek to remedy the conviction” if they have clear and convincing evidence that a defendant in the prosecutor’s jurisdiction was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit.  This ABA Model Rule change has led to a number of concrete state rule changes that impose new duties on prosecutors.  As of January 2011, two states had adopted the proposed revisions to Rule 3.8, three states had adopted a modified version of Rules 3.8(g) and (h), and eleven jurisdictions were studying the ABA resolution and report. I predict that many of these jurisdictions are likely to adopt Rules 3.8(g) and (h), which is what the relevant entity in my home state of Pennsylvania recently recommended.

The 2010 Cardozo Symposium entitled “New Perspectives on Brady and Other Disclosure Obligations: What Really Works” is important reading for all lawyers – regardless of specialty or country – because we all have an interest in participating in a legal system that has a robust rule of law.  Corruption or even misunderstandings about prosecutor conduct, including disclosure duties, can undermine public confidence and also the confidence of the legal profession in our legal system.  This is a broader problem than one might realize.  For example, in 2010, the International Bar Association, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime jointly developed a survey on “Risks and Threats of Corruption in the Legal Profession.”    The Survey was distributed to IBA member and 642 professionals from 95 countries responded.  Although the Survey cautioned that its results might not be statistically significant, it also stated that the Survey represented “a first attempt to shed light” on issues that included the legal profession’s perception of corruption in their own jurisdiction.   Nearly half of the respondents stated that corruption was an issue in the legal profession in their own jurisdiction.  Approximately 20% of the responding lawyers from the U.S. and Canada thought corruption was an issue in the legal profession in their country.  (This contrasts with approximately 15% of lawyers in Australasia, 32% of lawyers in the EU, and 90% of lawyers in the Commonwealth of Independent States.) Continue reading "Academics Making a Difference: Prosecutor Disclosure Obligations in Criminal Cases"

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