A Wellness Action Plan to (Re)Start 2021

When I thought about where to start my 2021 Resolution for the Legal Profession series, I quickly settled on wellness, because starting the year off on the right foot is so important to the success of the rest. Further, the tumultuous start to 2021 has only underscored that this is the right topic to begin with.

Because I am hardly an authority in this area and have a solid track record of not setting a great example, I brought in the real expert I quoted in the Resolution, Erin Clifford, who was kind enough to agree to share some of her wisdom here:

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2021 Resolution: Don’t Let the Hard-Earned Lessons of 2020 Go to Waste

If you can’t wait to put 2020 behind you and would like to send it off with an emphatic middle-finger salute, you’ve got a friend here. But for those of us who are lucky enough to have made it through this bizarro year in one piece, there is much we can and should take with us that will make the world better in 2021 and well into the future.

That’s why my 5th Annual New Year’s Resolution for the Legal Profession is to take stock of what 2020 has taught us to make for a better profession and a better system of justice going forward. And we’ve got a lot of material to work with on this front.

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A Self-Inflicted Access to Justice Scourge

By Bob Glaves | CBF Executive Director

In recent posts, I have been highlighting the larger systemic changes we need to make to significantly move the needle on improving access to justice, and for good reason. As we continue to push forward on those critical fronts, however, there is much we can do on our own […]

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Our Supreme Thanks and Congrats

It is a time of significant transitions on the Illinois Supreme Court as Justice Tom Kilbride and Justice Lloyd Karmeier will soon complete distinguished terms on the Court, and Justices David Overstreet and Robert Carter prepare to become the Court’s newest Justices.

We thank Justices Kilbride and Karmeier for their impressive commitment to equal access to […]

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Does it Really Matter?

News Flash: Pro bono is not the complete solution to the huge gap in access to justice. That is actually not news to anyone involved in this work, but it seems a lot more people of late have been highlighting what pro bono can’t do as they make their case for other solutions, often implying in the process that pro bono is less important or less worthy of our resources and attention.

Well, that is just plain wrong. Just because pro bono is not the solution on its own does not mean it is not an integral part of the larger quest to fulfill our nation’s ideal of a fair and accessible justice system for all. Pro bono in fact has a big role to play, and it matters in many other ways as well.

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A Fork in the Road for Our Profession

The 1980’s called and they want their Rules of Professional Conduct back. And they can have them.

As the world around us has changed dramatically since those heady days when seeing a music video on MTV was mind-blowing, we have seen only modest changes in the Rules governing the business of law. The result is our profession has gradually priced the everyday person out of the market for legal services even though we have more lawyers practicing than ever before.

Something is clearly wrong, and we now face a clear choice: continue down the same unsustainable path, or set a new course where we empower the middle class to access the quality, affordable legal services they need and enable lawyers to sustainably provide those services to them.

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Lessons from Within

My New Year’s Resolution for our legal profession this year was to make law better by looking to what we can learn from other professions and industries, and as I explored further over the past few months, there is no shortage of material on that front.

As we look at ways we can better and more sustainably serve the public, there also are a number of lessons we can learn from the areas of the legal services market that are functioning reasonably well for lawyers and clients today.

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Where’s the Proof?

This is a common refrain from the naysayer crowd when the subject of regulatory reform and access to justice is raised. And we can be sure we will hear it when the CBA and CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law & Innovation releases its report and recommendations for public comment this week.

From the beginning of time, this has been the anthem of all who fear change and resist progress. It is a misguided question because, after all, how can you prove something that has not happened yet? When the question is properly framed in this context, however, it turns out there actually is lots of proof that underscores the urgent need for regulatory reform.

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Making Law Better By Looking Outside of Law—The Wrap

When I kicked off my 2020 Resolution for the Legal Profession series back in December, to say the world looked different from today would be the understatement of the century. But for everything else that can be said about how much things have changed in just a matter of months, the central point of the resolution—that there is much our legal profession can learn by looking at other professions and industries—has only become more apparent.

The way we do business in law already was not working well for the average person or for the lawyers trying to serve the consumer legal market, and other professions and industries were far ahead of us in modernizing their business practices. As we all adapt to the new normal where more people than ever need legal help and where remote, multichannel access will forevermore be a fundamental part of our lives, it is even more urgent for our legal profession to look beyond ourselves for solutions.

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Just Because We Can Doesn’t Mean We Should, and Just Because We Should Can Never Again Mean We Can’t

That deliberately challenging title could apply to most things in our lives as we (hopefully) start returning to a semblance of normal in the coming weeks. My focus here is specifically on our courts and legal profession as the conversations about how to reopen the system get started. As much as the pandemic exposed the flaws and limitations of the system when it hit, there have been some impressive adaptations since then, and we have a unique moment in time to shape a much better future for the courts, our profession, and access to justice.

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