CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law & Innovation
It is well documented that we have a huge access to justice problem in the United States, including in Illinois. Many thousands of Illinoisans who need or would benefit from legal assistance and can afford to pay something for it are not getting help from lawyers because they believe they cannot afford it, they do not know how to find it, or they do not even know that they have a legal problem in the first place.
At the same time, it is well documented that the economics of law have changed at a time when we have more lawyers than ever before. For a variety of reasons, it is more challenging than ever to run a sustainable law practice, particularly for lawyers serving the consumer market, and lawyers in all practice settings are struggling to adapt.
In short, we are experiencing a market failure in the market for consumer legal services. Because the legal market is shaped in large part by our Rules of Professional Conduct, we have an opportunity to take a fresh look at these Rules to spark innovation in the consumer legal market, promote the sustainable practice and business of law, and better serve people who need legal help.
Legal communities in several states have responded to these problems by creating task forces charged with examining how regulatory reform could increase access to legal services. The CBA-CBF Task Force will review and build on the knowledge and work product created by these task forces as it reimagines the regulation of the business of law in Illinois to:
- Improve opportunities for lawyers to connect with legal consumers and practice law in a more sustainable, financially viable, and customer-centric manner; and,
- Provide more cost effective and efficient legal support to the public by, where appropriate, optimizing the use of other legal professionals, partnering with online legal service providers and other business and technology entities, and expanding the limited scope rules.
The goals of the CBA-CBF Task Force are twofold. First, the Task Force aims to submit recommendations regarding ethics rule changes to the Illinois Supreme Court by fall 2020. And second, the Task Force will then continue to identify, track, and assess ongoing legal innovations and initiatives in other jurisdictions to ensure that Illinois remains at the forefront on these issues.