The New York Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts, with the Consent of the Administrative Board of the Courts, has issued an administrative order making it the policy of the Unified Court System to support and encourage limited scope representation and encourage judges and justices to permit limited scope appearances (under certain conditions - see full Order here). This comes not long after the New York State Bar Association's House of Delegates adopted a report endorsing limited-scope representation. For more information, read this New York Law Journal article.
The Supreme Court of Texas created the Texas Commission to Expand Civil Legal Services to expand the availability of civil legal services to low- and middle-income Texans. The Commission recently released a report with eight recommendations to the Court, including recommendations to: create pipelines of services for modest-means clients support; promote existing and new legal incubators; and amend rules to address and clarify issues raised by limited-scope representation. Access the full report here.
In August 2016, The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) conducted a survey of 1,500 Ontarians on their views of justice and justice accessibility. The results are now available, and among other interesting findings, the survey found that unbundled or partial legal services is the most preferred initiative among the respondents to increase access to justice. Access the full report here.
The Supporting Families Through Change: Unbundled Legal Services Project is being advanced by Mediate BC to encourage more BC family lawyers to offer unbundled legal services to families experiencing separation and divorce. To learn more about attitudes toward, and experience with, unbundling, the project sought input from BC family lawyers, family mediators and the public through online surveys. The survey responses are being released through a series of posts on the BC Mediation Blog. Check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Survey of Lawyer Incubators
The Delivery Committee, in collaboration with the Incubator Consortium, has conducted a survey of lawyer incubators to collect and share data about programs and their participants. The findings are now available in the 2016 Comprehensive Survey of Lawyer Incubators report. Access the Report for detailed information on incubator program characteristics, resources and training, client and community services and the future outlook.
The ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, a Presidential Initiative that kicked off in 2014 under past President William Hubbard, released its final report on Saturday during the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. "The Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States" makes recommendations for how the bar can close the access to justice gap in America. Access the Executive Summary here and the interactive online version here.
Colorado Revises Ethics Opinion on Unbundling
The Colorado Bar Association’s Ethics Committee has revised Formal Opinion 101 addressing the unbundling of legal services. The new, more comprehensive Opinion discusses the provisions of Colorado RPC 1.2(c) that expressly allow limited scope representation, related rules that enable lawyers to provide limited scope representation and to ghostwrite pleadings and briefs, and other rules of professional conduct that lawyers engaged in limited scope representation must follow. The Ethics Committee originally adopted Formal Opinion 101 in 1998, and the new Opinion 101 discusses the increased use of unbundling throughout the state and country since then.
Access Legal Care, the 2013 recipient of the Delivery Committee's Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access, has expanded into Illinois. Originally from Michigan, Access Legal Care provides affordable help for common legal needs by using a model that includes fixed fees and other methods of reducing costs, resulting in services that cost 40-60% less than the industry average.
Starting August 1, 2016, lawyers in North Dakota will have greater flexibility when representing clients on a limited scope basis. The Supreme Court has adopted amendments to North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure 11, North Dakota Rules of Court 11.2 and North Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct 1.2. The changes allow lawyers in that state to prepare pleadings, briefs or other documents on behalf of a self-represented client without being assigned to the case and allow them to file a certificate of completion for a limited appearance instead of having to get court approval to withdraw. In addition, the new Rule 1.2 now requires client consent in writing for limited scope agreements -- a deviation from the old rule which only stated apreference for written consent. Learn more in the ND State Bar News article, "Limited scope representation amendments take effect Aug. 1"
The Arkansas Supreme Court has amended its Rules of Professional Conduct to further clarify the responsibilies of attorneys who offer limited scope representation. The revisions were originally proposed via petition by the Arkansas Bar Association, which were adopted in the Court's May 12 order, to take immediate effect. The revisions clarify when a client's informed consent has to be in writing and outlines an attorney's communication responsibilities when the opposing party is represented by a limited scope attorney. The new rules as well as sample Notices of Limited Scope Representation and Notice of Completion can be accessed here.
The Arkansas Access to Justice Foundation, Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas have released their 2015 Annual Justice Partners Report. The Report provides that while two-thirds of adults in Arkansas have experienced a civil legal problem in the past 18 months, only 14% accessed a lawyer, court or legal aid. Access the full report with additional findings here.
The National Center for State Courts has released a request for proposals for its Justice for All project. The Justice for All project "aims to encourage state efforts that include all relevant stakeholders in the civil justice community—courts, access to justice commissions, legal aid, the private bar—in a partnership to implement CCJ/COSCA Resolution 5 (Meaningful Access to Justice for All)." Find out more about the project and access the RFP here. Deadline for submissions is October 5, 2016.
The 21st Century Practice Task Force at the State Bar of Michigan has released a report in which it proposes "Five Key Problems and Our Keys to Solving Them." Recommendations include an unbundling system to expand access, billable hour alternatives, support for innovative law firm models, dynamic and data-driven new lawyer support via incubators, and much more. Access the full report and the State Bar's new Futures page here.
Cases Without Counsel, a project of The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), was a qualitative study conducted through one-on-one interviews designed to explore the issue of self-representation from the litigants’ perspective. Access the findings in the Research Report and specific recommendations in the Recommendations Report. Additional materials and resources are also available in this Toolkit for those interested in learning more or implementing the recommendations in their jurisdictions. See ABC News coverage of the study here.
Two law firms based in Wal-mart stores have recently opened in Missouri. The Law Store handles basic legal services such as traffic offenses, family law and wills and estate planning and uses a menu-style pricing model instead of the traditional hourly rate. Five more locations are planned in Missouri by the end of the year, and 11 other states have expressed interest. Another law firm based in Wal-Mart stores, Kaine Law, was recently featured in the ABA Journal article, "Law firms are already inside some US Wal-Marts."
The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice recently conducted the “Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada” survey which measured the frequency and ways in which members of the Canadian public experience everyday legal problems. The survey asks the public what these problems cost – in dollars, time and opportunity costs, costs to their physical and mental health and costs to their livelihood. Access the report here.
The Delivery Committee has filed a proposed resolution calling upon entities that provide online legal forms to include clear and conspicuous links to lawyers. The resolution will be before the ABA House of Delegates at the 2016 Annual Meeting in August. Click here to access the proposed resolution and the accompanying report. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to share your support, questions or concerns.
The Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) Lawyer Referral Service has launched a limited scope representation initiative to connect interested panel members with clients of limited means who may benefit from limited scope services.
The Arkansas Supreme Court is considering proposed changes to its Rules of Professional Conduct that would provide additional guidance for attorneys wishing to provide limited scope representation. Recently, an order soliciting comments was issued in response to a petition that the Arkansas Bar Association filed, requesting the changes.
The Chicago Bar Foundation and its incubator, the Justice Entrepreneurs Project (JEP), have released the Pricing Toolkit for attorneys seeking to serve low- and moderate-income clients. The Toolkit is designed to help attorneys value, price, and provide their services in ways that are affordable and accessible to folks who fall into the Justice Gap.
2015 Brown Award winner, Call for Justice LLC, is holding its Legal Liaison Program on March 29. C4J collaborates with United Way 211, the state’s largest information and referral resource, to provide training on how to make better, more targeted legal referrals to available programs. At the event, leaders from community groups and organizations will be trained on where to find legal resources.
The New York City Bar Association has just made permanent its Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project, which was launched a year ago in the Eastern District as a pilot program. The program provides limited-scope representation, advice and consultation to pro se litigants.
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project has just launched a National Database of Professionals Assisting Self-Represented Litigants to connect those offering innovative and responsive services and to provide information to self-represented litigants looking for affordable services. Read more about it and the issues surrounding it in the article, Reasonable Doubt: Why Better Access to Justice is Every Canadian’s Issue.
The Year in Review chronicles the work of the Delivery Committee and others who share a commitment to advancing access for those of moderate income. It highlights relevant articles, initiatives, policy, models and more from 2015. The annual Report is designed to help stakeholders broaden their understanding of the issues, identify others who are working in parallel paths and facilitate conversations about increased avenues of access to legal services. Access previous Year in Review reports here.