CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law & Innovation

The Chicago Bar Association and the CBF officially launched the Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law & Innovation in October, 2019 to help shape a better future for our profession, the public, and the justice system. The status quo in the consumer legal market is untenable for all involved—lawyers, the public, and the courts—and jeopardizes public confidence in and respect for our judicial system and the rule of law. The Task Force brings together a broad group of distinguished local and national stakeholders to tackle these issues. By fall of 2020, it will make formal recommendations to the Illinois Supreme Court to modernize the Rules of Professional Conduct to make the legal market work better for everyone.

To achieve the greater vision of maximizing efficiencies in the legal market and increasing access for people who need legal help, the Task Force is striving to develop a new framework for the Rules that uses the lightest regulatory hand possible to create an environment that fosters innovation (through technology, business processes, and the practice of law) while also protecting consumers and our profession’s fundamental principles.

Committees and Areas of Focus
Modernizing Lawyer Referral & Law Firm Models
Expand and improve the lawyer referral system and opportunities to connect more lawyers to paying legal consumers. Open the door to different law practice models to expand opportunities for lawyers to represent clients in an affordable and financially viable manner. Explore modernizing the rules around fees and fee petitions.

  • Modernize rules on intermediary services, fee sharing, and law firm business structures
    • Propose changes to Rule 5.4 and Rule 7.
    • Comment on ARDC Intermediary Connecting Services Proposal
  • Streamline marketing and advertising rules
    • Propose changes to the Rule 7 Series.
  • Clarify rules around “alternative fees” and fee petitions
    • Propose a new comment to Rule 1.5 clarifying that fee arrangements not solely or directly tied to the billable hour are permissible and encouraged where appropriate.
    • Propose a new Illinois Supreme Court Rule clarifying that any fee agreement permissible under Rule 1.5 and reasonable under the circumstances may be the basis for an attorney’s fee petition.

Optimizing the Use of Other Legal Professionals

Consider how the Illinois legal system might model the medical profession allowing differing legal paraprofessionals to assist clients and provide a variety of legal services such as community legal navigators, limited licensed legal technicians or reliance upon other professionals to assist with specific types of legal support and evaluate what training and/or certifications such providers might require.

  • Define the practice of law in a practical, understandable way
  • Propose an accredited paralegal model using a similar structure to Rule 711 where a paralegal who meets certain standards can perform a broader range of services under the auspices and supervision of a lawyer
  • Propose the formal recognition of a layperson “community legal advocate” role
    • Using the successful Illinois JusticeCorps model in the courts as a model for community-based settings like libraries and social service agencies, the advocate would provide information, procedural and navigational assistance, and referrals to free and affordable legal assistance and approved market-based lawyer referral programs.

Regulating Technology-Based Legal Products and Services

Explore how the legal profession can most effectively regulate technology-based legal products and services and the lawyers and entities that provide them to make reliable legal services, forms, documents, and self-help resources readily available to the public.

  • Identify and propose a regulatory framework through which lawyers, law firms, and other business entities can offer technology-based legal products and services to legal consumers.
  • Propose a structure to regulate entities providing technology-based legal products and services to the public.
  • Draft and propose amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct that enable lawyers to provide legal products and services that do not require the non-scalable one-to-one attorney/client relationship.

Plain Language Ethics Rules

Undertake a critical review and assessment of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct with a focus on a renewed “plain English” approach.

  • Review other committee proposals with a plain language lens
  • Conduct an audit of the Rules with plain language lens, with focus on Rules that are most confusing (e.g., Rule 1.15 on trust accounting)

Expanding the Limited Scope Rules

Assess ways to better promote and support limited scope representation under the rules and whether the limited scope rules in Illinois should be expanded beyond civil cases in state court to include misdemeanor, quasi-criminal and/or federal court cases.

  • Explore potential adoption of limited scope rules in federal court
    • Use Colorado’s federal court rules as a model.
  • Explore potential expansion of Rules to criminal or traffic cases
    • Propose changes to Rule 1.2 and IL Supreme Court Rule 13.
  • Increase education/encouragement among the bench and bar on the use of limited scope
    • Propose an amendment to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 13 to allow for an additional withdrawal option, permitting withdrawal from a limited scope representation to be automatic upon completion of the limited scope representation and the filing of the Notice of Withdrawal and Completion of Limited Scope Appearance.
    • Propose an amendment to Illinois Supreme Court Rules 793 and 794 to add “limited scope” and “access to justice” to the list of topics that can be included in the required New Lawyer Basic Skills Course.


For more information regarding the Task Force, please contact CBF Director of Innovation & the JEP Jessica Bednarz (312-546-9939) or CBF Executive Director Bob Glaves (312-554-1205).