Lobster is one option, but the menu says it’s “market price.” You ask the server what the current market price is—and they say it’s uncertain and depends on many factors, such as the age of the lobster and how long it will take the chef to prepare it. You’ll find out how much you owe for the lobster once you get the bill.
In that scenario, Walters said, “Nobody will ever order the lobster if they have an alternative.” Instead, he continued, they might order the steak, even if it’s ultimately more expensive and not what they wanted—or they might even give up and prepare their own food.
As a profession, Walters believes, “We’re selling lobster.” That is, the billable hour plus an unwillingness to even estimate costs presents too much risk for today’s client—whether an individual or a business.
How can lawyers better serve the 80 percent of people with legal problems who are currently not receiving any services—even though, in many cases, they can afford to pay something for them? According to William Henderson, professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, it will take more than the small changes that many are now trying to make. “The platform is burning quite a bit,” he believes, and the entire model of legal services delivery must be rebuilt—and many current ethics rules are a big part of the problem.
What role can bar associations play in helping to serve consumers a decent “meal” at a price they can understand? Representing that point of view was John Phelps, CEO of the State Bar of Arizona, whose new Find A Lawyer platform helps connect individuals with lawyers at easy-to-understand pricing levels.
Rounding out the plenary panel was Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, who shared what the gaps in access to justice look like to those on the bench. The panel was moderated by Jayne Reardon, executive director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.