Law is too important to be left to the lawyers.

This from Richard Granat, a true champion when it comes to harnessing innovation and technology to improve American’s access to legal services.

Granat shared this in a Facebook comment in reference to society’s leaving it to lawyers and lawyer controlled bar associations to decide how legal services are delivered in this country.

By and large, it’s bar associations that decide what innovation and legal technology gets used in the delivery of legal services. Not a great situation for the public when bar associations exist to represent the interests of lawyers who earn by time, not efficiency.

Granat is not alone.

Gillian Hadfield, a leading proponent of the reform and redesign of legal systems and a Professor at USC Law School, commented this week on bar associations limiting access to legal services in, of all places, the American Bar Association’s Law Technology Today magazine.

A week ago, Mary Juetten, co-founder of Evolve Law and founder and CEO of Traklight, a self-guided IP strategy platform, wrote about bar associations driving small legal tech companies out of business on the pretense that legal tech business models violate the unauthorized practice of law rules.

Juetten questioned what the bar associations were actually protecting.

I have some great friends working with and for bar associations. LexBlog has the honor of working with any number of bar associations.

But should bar associations be deciding what is and what is not legal services that require a lawyer? Are bar associations, by restricting what they describe as legal services to being administered by lawyers, just making lawyers more and more irrelevant to individuals and small businesses?

Is it possible that bar associations by looking to protect lawyers are actually hurting lawyers? With less people looking for legal services administered the way they are, there is less and less work for lawyers. We’re already seeing less lawyers.

While the American Bar Association and state bar associations look to be the hub of discussion on access to legal services, and even innovation and legal technology, there is a growing sentiment that bars may be the reason for the increasing chasm we have in access to legal services.

Robert Ambrogi, LexBlog’s editor-chief and publisher and former editor of the National Law Journal, explained a couple months ago to a Chicago gathering of legal professionals discussing an effort to bring access to legal services, that the American Bar Association and many bar associations could not lead the effort because of their role as a trade organization.

Juetten may well be right that it’s not an “either or” situation, as she tweeted immediately after I published my post. In the absence of another body, bar associations could include non lawyers and private companies on their governing boards.

I don’t have all the answers, but I’m with Granat. “Law is too important to be left to the lawyers.

  • shg

    What’s it been, a decade we’ve been talking about Access to Justice, how legaltech will fix everything and how bar associations are literally horrible? Since then, Washington State has created Limited License Legal Technicians, which has no legs. Legaltech conference presenters get on stage with the best mousetrap ever, only to be gone by the next year and replaced by the even better best mousetrap ever, and bar associations serve neither the bar nor the public.

    And life goes on. Perhaps the problem with the A2J discussion is that it’s a fantasy claim. It’s not that there aren’t real issues, but your pals define the problem with their feelings instead of their brains, while ignoring the reality of practicing law and then being very sad that every inane idea they’ve ever come up with is a miserable failure.

    In the meantime, legaltech conferences have been reduced to jokes, as they offer nothing of substance to practicing lawyers. Could they ever turn the corner and get real? Maybe, but they would rather poke their eyes out than have someone (like me) speak at their conference and challenge their puffery with the reality of lawyers and clients. They love their lies too much to hear a discouraging word, and so a decade later, the circle of failures continues to go ’round.

    The shame is that for the people who are denied access to lawyers, they continue to suffer while the cheerleaders cheer each other in their self-made bubble. And nobody really gives a shit any more. Hi Bobby.

    • Agree that much more is said than acted upon. That’s one of the biggest problems we have. You also have disparate bodies with different rules and different leaders not communicating. More than once, I have wanted to ask a speaker if they had ever tried case, or better yet a case they did for free and without getting any credit from an employer for the hours they put in.
      Legal tech also has severe limitations in A2J with less than 5% of legal tech companies focusing on access to legal services issues. Most are focused on making money from large law firms and corporations.

      Having said that, tech has done a few things and continues to do so. It was a drop in the bucket but I could not have connected all the folks I did with good contingency fee lawyers in their area back in the 90’s. I did it with aol and email, big time tech to me back then. Crazy thing was that I stopped out of fear I was running a foul of various state laws and ethic rules.

      Legal tech provides no cure, but it provides pockets of access when lawyers and associations are equipped to care.