News Tag: Future of the Profession


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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March 29, 2018

A Fool for a Client?

Part 1 of a 4-part series

A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. Most of us have heard that old adage, and while we’ve thankfully come a long way from those days when the assumption was the lawyer would be a him, we’ve also reached a point where advances in technology and the growing gap in access to free and affordable legal services require us to revisit the underlying premise.

When do we really need a lawyer to get a just result? Or put another way, when are we fools to try to go it alone (assuming we even have a choice)? Not to be overdramatic, but there is not a more critical question today for access to justice and the future of our profession.

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December 20, 2017

2018 New Year’s Resolution for the Legal Profession: Make it a Priority to Incorporate Technology Into Our Work, but Set Clearer Boundaries

Last year at this time, you may remember my new year’s resolution for our profession was to stop calling people non-lawyers, which sadly continues to be a problem and needs to carry forward as a 2018 resolution.

My new resolution for next year is that we as a profession make it a priority to catch up to the rest of the world in the way we use technology. But it comes with a critical corollary: wherever we are on the spectrum of technology adoption, we need to set much clearer boundaries so that technology doesn’t so overwhelm our lives that we lose what makes us uniquely valuable as professionals and people.

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September 28, 2017

People Remember How You Made Them Feel

Maya Angelou was the source of a lot of wisdom over the course of her amazing life and career, exemplified by one of her most famous quotes: I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. These words should be a guiding principle for all of us connected to law and the legal profession as we strive to improve access to justice in an age of increasingly rapid technological change.

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May 25, 2017

Another Self-Inflicted Barrier to Access to Justice: The Rules Governing Lawyer Marketing and Advertising

Many thousands of Illinoisans who need or would benefit from legal assistance and can afford to pay something aren’t getting it. They often don’t recognize their problem as a legal one, and when they do, they too often don’t know where to go for quality legal help or whether it would be a cost-effective solution for them. At the same time, we have more lawyers than ever before, most of whom have capacity and interest in helping more paying clients. In economics, this is called a market failure, and our profession is compounding this failure by unnecessarily restraining market forces from fixing the problem.

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