A sea change has occurred in the world of legal services regulation. Spurred on by the pandemic and the economic crisis it precipitated, an unprecedented alliance of stakeholders is demanding that the regulation of legal services be viewed through a new prism — effective access to justice.
Regulators of legal services — state bars, law societies, state Supreme Courts, and other entities — are facing a chorus of demands to open the delivery of legal services to people who are not lawyers, companies that are not law firms, and even technology that is not human.
Regulators are understandably concerned to ensure that their prime mandate — to protect and advance the public interest in the delivery of legal services — is continuously met. But there is also a growing acceptance that:
- the “public interest” includes the accessibility and affordability of legal services,
- new providers of legal services increasingly meet high quality standards, and
- the diversification of the supply side of the legal market is only just beginning.
Legal regulators would have their hands full even if new standards for the authorization of legal services providers were all they had to contend with. But regulators are also grappling with changing understanding and expectations of “lawyer competence,” and must now decide what it means to be an effective, ethical, and proficient lawyer — and how to ensure that every lawyer they regulate meets that standard.
Legal regulators would benefit greatly from practical advice and strategic guidance as they navigate these entirely uncharted waters. I have advised and delivered keynote presentations to several law societies in Canada and multiple state bars in the US, and I have studied the regulatory space in legal services for well over a decade.
- advisory relationships on monthly retainers, within which I counsel legal regulators on the key issues that they encounter on an everyday basis; and
- one-time special events such as a strategic planning retreat, a presentation about the future, or a white paper setting out options and visions for the road ahead.