What are some of the key recommendations and findings of the California and Utah reports?

California: Legal Market Landscape Report | Utah: Narrowing the Access-to-Justice Gap by Reimagining Regulation Report

What are some of the key recommendations and findings of the California and Utah reports?

Legal Market Landscape Report (bit.ly/bt1019p27-1)

  • Narrowing restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law (“UPL”) to allow persons or businesses other than a lawyer or law firm to render legal services, provided they meet appropriate eligibility standards and comply with regulatory requirements;

  • Permitting a nonlawyer to own or have a financial interest in a law practice; and
  • Permitting lawyers to share fees with nonlawyers under certain circumstances and amending other attorney rules regarding advertising, solicitation, and the duty to competently provide legal services.

The potential benefits of these recommendations were listed as follows:

  • Improving the ability of new providers to enter the legal services market;
  • Creating incentives for innovators to collaborate with lawyers to develop technology-driven solutions;
  • Expanding options for entities and individuals other than lawyers to support and participate in these developments through business ownership and capital investment.
  • Limiting the new UPL exceptions to only those providers who meet eligibility qualifications and become regulated;
  • Requiring the establishment of ethical standards comparable to those imposed on lawyers and law firms;
  • Conditioning the new system on the establishment of equivalent protections afforded by the attorney-client privilege and a lawyer’s ethical duty of confidentiality; and
  • Including in the revised fee-splitting rule a provision prohibiting interference with a lawyer’s independent professional judgment.

Narrowing the Access-to-Justice Gap by Reimagining Regulation Report (bit.ly/bt1019p27-2)

“Certain rules of professional conduct have been viewed by lawyers as impeding their ability to increase business and survive in the online world. Restrictions on lawyer advertising, fee sharing, and ownership of and investment in law firms by non-lawyers are concepts that need serious amendment if we are to improve competition and successfully close the access-to-justice gap.”

In a July 11 meeting, the Arizona task force voted “to amend the state’s ethical rules to allow lawyers and non-lawyers to form new legal services businesses known as ‘alternative business structures.’” They stated that they believed the Arizona approach had much to offer. Indeed, they viewed the elimination or substantial relaxation of Rule 5.4 as key to allowing lawyers to fully and comfortably participate in the technological revolution. They felt without such a change, lawyers will be at risk of not being able to engage with entrepreneurs across a wide swath of platforms.

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