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Change doesn’t come rapidly in law. That’s a good thing. The rule of law is predicated on predictability and consistency with precedent. However, if the rapid pace of changes in technology and globalization leave law behind and out of the equation, that’s a problem. Here’s where the idea of regulatory sandboxes may help. What’s a regulatory sandbox? “Regulatory sandbox” refers to a way for companies and regulators to experiment with new types of services and…
Do lawyer ethics rules prohibit innovation in the delivery of legal services and contribute to the access to justice gap? Yes, according to a task force on lawyer regulation formed last summer by the California State Bar’s Board of Trustees. The task force has recommended changing some key lawyer ethics rules. California isn’t alone in exploring this issue. Arizona and Utah have also convened task forces. Illinois has been studying similar issues for some time.…
There’s been a disturbing justice gap in the U.S. for decades. The legal profession has responded by encouraging pro bono legal services to low-income Americans, allowing the “unbundling” of legal services into smaller pieces, utilizing technology to reach more people and exploring efficiencies in the delivery of legal services. Most of these approaches assume people aren’t using lawyers for their civil legal needs because they’re too expensive. But cost is not the only reason for…
One thing that defines the legal profession is that it’s “self-governing.” Lawyers have ethical regulations that bind them together in service to others. But do lawyer ethics rules effectively serve the profession? Do these regulations serve the public? Not as well as they should. Rationale for Self-Regulation What’s this notion of “self-regulation?” Lawyers aren’t licensed or regulated by a department within the executive branch of the government but by state supreme courts. This isn’t set…
Legal innovation is all the rage in our profession. In fact, innovation has been a hot topic in many industries for a while now. Law’s stock in trade has been analyzing and applying specialized legal knowledge to solving clients’ problems. But since technology has made information widely available, lawyers no longer have a monopoly. The general public is searching the internet for legal information and services. Companies are selling legal information and services on the…
Lawyers have a duty to represent their clients. At the same, they have a responsibility to the legal system and the quality of justice administered. These three sets of obligations are laid out in the Preamble to the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Preamble urges lawyers to promote civility and to further the public’s confidence in the rule of law and the justice system. So what does it mean to promote civility and the rule of…
More than politeness, civility in government is the glue that holds our republic together. Discussion about civility tends to focus on good manners, or how people speak and behave. But that’s only part of being civil. That people speak and what is substantively communicated are also key components. Respectful sharing of differing viewpoints and compromise around policy makes for civility in government. And America is saying we need more of it. Civility in government =…
Why aren’t law firms held accountable for violations of ethics rules that harm consumers?  We often see reports that confidential client information may have been compromised by cyberattacks or security breaches involving inadequately protected data. Who’s responsible? In most U.S. jurisdictions, only individual lawyers are disciplined for ethical violations that harm consumers. However, roughly half of lawyers practice in a law firm setting. And associates in medium-to-large firms have no influence over firm systems, such…
No matter your practice area, there are legal conferences throughout the year that can help you stay up to date on developments impacting your career. In 2018, we highlighted conferences for young lawyers. This year we’re highlighting future law conferences. What is a future law conference? It wasn’t long ago that “future law” referred to any conference or continuing legal education (CLE) program that mentioned technology. After all, law school traditionally didn’t provide technology training…