The Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) is taking a stance in support of regulatory innovation. During its Midyear Meeting last week, the CCJ adopted Resolution 2, which urges its members to consider regulatory innovations that could improve the delivery of legal services while protecting the public.
The resolution recognizes the difficulties Americans face when accessing quality and affordable legal services. Moreover, while traditional solutions to reducing the justice gap, such as increased civil legal aid funding, pro bono work, and court assistance programs, have helped, they aren’t likely to solve the problem alone.
The CCJ points to the efforts by regulators and bar associations in several states, including Arizona, California, New Mexico, Utah, Illinois, and others, that are exploring lawyer re-regulation in response to the market failure in consumer legal services. Regulatory innovations being explored generally fall into three areas:
- the authorization and regulation of new categories of legal service providers,
- the consideration of alternative business structures,
- and the reexamination of provisions related to the unauthorized practice of law.
Data gathered from these regulatory sandboxes will provide a “measured approach to identify and analyze the best solutions to meeting the public’s growing legal needs,” the resolution says.
While the task of regulating the legal profession typically falls to state bars or bar associations, state supreme courts are ultimately responsible, says Zack DeMeola, manager at the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System who will speak on regulatory innovation at the Commission on Professionalism’s The Future Is Now: Legal Services conference in April.
A similar resolution – Resolution 115 – will be debated by the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates this week at its Midyear Meeting. The resolution, however, faces significant opposition by some state bar leaders who say it will lead to outside investment of law firms and nonlawyers practicing law.
Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke attended the CCJ Midyear Meeting.
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