News Tag: Future of the Profession


May 23, 2019

The Affordability Action Plan

Over the course of the past several months, I’ve used this blog to discuss four big issues our legal profession needs to address to carry out my 2019 Resolution: to tackle our affordability problem for everyday people. The common denominator on these issues is that the solutions to making legal services more affordable and accessible to the middle class are almost entirely within our power as a profession and court system. 

To paraphrase a famous saying, we have met the enemy, and it is us. The following, interconnected action plan can help us defeat that enemy and strike a major blow for access to justice in the process.

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April 26, 2019

What Do Courts Have to Do with the Affordability of Legal Services?

Quite a lot, as a matter of fact. The fundamental mission of the courts is to deliver justice for all by protecting rights and liberties, upholding the rule of law, and serving as fair and neutral arbiters to resolve disputes. Promoting affordable legal representation is a central part of fulfilling that mission, yet some of the key steps to doing so are too often overlooked by courts today.

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March 27, 2019

Uber, Taxis and the Legal Market

Take a trip down bad memory lane to about ten years ago when you needed to get a cab but were not in a place where taxis tend to be plentiful on the street. Remember what that was like?

Hold that thought for a moment, and now think of what it is like today for someone who is looking for a lawyer and doesn’t know where to turn. While it is sure to get most lawyers upset to be compared to the taxi industry, the similarities in these two market failures are striking. We can write a different script for what happens in the legal market but need to start now.

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February 27, 2019

What Are We Selling?

It seems a simple question to ask, but one we do not think enough about in law and too often answer incorrectly. Getting that answer right is the first essential step towards carrying out my New
Year’s Resolution for 2019
for the legal profession to tackle our affordability problem for everyday people.

Two recent commentaries in the New York Times and the Atlantic challenge us to re-examine our profession’s longstanding assumptions on this question, and offer a good jumping off point for discussion.

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February 1, 2019

A Make or Break Issue for Access to Justice

Whether an issue is a challenge or an opportunity is often simply a matter of perception. As Winston Churchill once put it, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” Over the CBF’s first 70 years, we have taken pride in confronting challenges head on and converting them into opportunities, and that has led to a number of significant innovations and long-term improvements in access to justice.

But sometimes an issue really is both a challenge and an opportunity at the same time. There is one such issue for access to justice looking ahead, a central one where our legal community will need to lead the way in striking the right balance if we are to reach the ultimate goal of a legal system that is truly fair and accessible for all.

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December 20, 2018

2019 Resolution—Time to Tackle our Affordability Problem for Everyday People

Lawyers often joke that they couldn’t afford themselves if they ran into a serious legal problem. While that is (usually) an exaggeration when a lawyer says it, it reflects a reality we all know to be true for most people in our community. It was not always like this, but somewhere along the way our profession managed to price the proverbial “regular guy” out of the market for most legal services.

As lawyers, we like to think of ourselves as problem solvers. This time the problem is us, and in 2019 we all need to make it a priority to solve it.

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November 5, 2018

Pricing for Access to Justice

The billable hour is dead! You’ve likely seen this headline a time or two over the past couple of years, and for good reason. As CBF Executive Director Bob Glaves pointed out in his 2016 blog post on pricing, we’ve largely priced the proverbial regular guy, and even ourselves sometimes, out of the market for […]

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August 15, 2018

Our Profession’s Losing Battle Against the Market

By any definition, we have a failure in the market for legal services for everyday people today, and a growing one at that. We have more lawyers than ever before at the same time as record numbers of people who need or would benefit from legal help are not getting it. Yet when faced with proposed changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct to address this market failure, the default response of our profession is to fight to maintain a losing status quo perhaps making some technical changes but avoiding the larger issues.

Lipstick on a pig, as the saying goes, when what we really need is a new regulatory approach that does not force lawyers to compete in the market with one hand tied behind their backs.

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July 24, 2018

A Fool for a Client? How to Avoid Playing the Fool

Part 4 of a 4-part series

Having identified the core roles lawyers play that are most important for someone facing a legal problem and what that means for our profession, today’s series finale looks at things from the perspective of the person facing a legal problem.

How can we best help people facing legal issues assess when they realistically can do things on their own, when they need a lawyer, and how much lawyer they need to achieve a just yet cost-effective outcome for their case?

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June 20, 2018

A Fool for a Client? A New Agenda for Our Profession

Part 3 of a 4-part series

In my last post, I identified the ways that lawyers will continue to have an integral (though evolving) role in ensuring access to justice. Our profession has the urgent responsibility to better focus on those core functions to make our services more efficient, accessible, and affordable.

So how do we do that? Along with the continuous improvement and adaptation that will be an integral part of any individual law practice, the bar, the courts and law schools need to adapt their roles as well.

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