On May 30, 2018, the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) of the Supreme Court of Illinois released for comments their Client Lawyer Matching Services Study. The Study approaches the issue through an access to justice lens, and offers a "framework to regulate entities that would connect clients and lawyers, while preserving lawyer independence and other core values of the profession."
The State Bar of Michigan Professional Ethics Committee is soliciting member comments on a Proposed Ethics Advisory Opinion that concludes that a lawyer's participation in a for-profit online matching service is not ethically permissible if the attorney’s fee is paid to and controlled by a non-lawyer and the cost for the online matching service is based on a percentage of the attorney’s fee paid.
On April 19, 2018, the North Carolina State Bar Ethics Committee declined to take action on proposed 2017 Formal Ethics Opinion 6, which concluded that lawyers may participate in Avvo Legal Services or similar online platforms, until the Authorized Practice Committee issues an advisory opinion on the unauthorized practice of law issue raised. North Carolina would be the first to give the thumbs up to this business model, following a series of negative Opinions out of Ohio, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Learn more in this article from the ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct™. As a related matter, in July 2017, the North Carolina Ethics Committee approved a proposed amendment to Rule 5.4 which would create an exception to the fee-splitting prohibition and allow payment to online platforms absent interference with the lawyer’s independence of professional judgment.
In 2017, the ABA surveyed lawyers about their use of and attitudes toward unbundled legal services. Over 34,000 private practitioners from 25 states participated, while actual response rates vary from question to question. Click here to access an infographic displaying some of the results, including the percentage of caseloads dedicated to unbundling, reasons why some lawyers don't unbundle, experiences from lawyers who do unbundle and what would encourage more unbundling.
Also, see the recently released article, Unbundled Legal Services: At the tipping-point? which discusses the survey results and also gives a detailed history of the emergence and advocacy of unbundling and examples of unbundling initiatives.
A Florida Circuit Court Judge has ordered Ice Legal P.A., a law firm who had prepared documents for an otherwise pro se defendant, to either file a notice of appearance or notice of non-representation. As set out in the responding Notice of Non-Appearance of Limited-Representation Counsel, at a January 25th hearing, upon noticing that the defendant’s motion contained the language “Prepared with Assistance of Counsel,” the Court refused to hear the defendant’s motion on the grounds that the defendant was represented by counsel who needed to be present at the hearing and further ordered reimbursement to the plaintiff for an hour’s worth of legal fees. Read the full Notice asking that the Court vacate the Order here, which lays out the argument that: the Court’s order exceeds the reach of its personal jurisdiction because Ice Legal had not appeared in the case as either a party or an attorney of record; that not only does Florida Bar Rule 4-1.2 (c) formally approve of unbundling, that both the ABA and the Florida Bar Association encourage its use as a means to address the access to justice problem; and that the comments to 4-1.2 (c) provide that a lawyer drafting documents for a pro se litigant need not sign the documents but must include the language “Prepared with the assistance of counsel.”
The Advisory Committee on Rules of Court of the Supreme Court of Virginia is seeking public comment on a proposed amendment adding a subsection (f) to Rule 1:5 to address limited-scope representation. The advisory committee is a subcommittee of the Judicial Council of Virginia. Comment deadline is March 1, 2018. Access the Amendment Proposal here.
The Virginia State Bar Council voted 59 to 6 in favor of Legal Ethics Opinion 1885, which concludes that a lawyer may not participate in an attorney-client matching service under the facts presented in the opinion because participation violates the Rules of Professional Conduct governing fee sharing with nonlawyers, paying for referrals, and safeguarding client funds. The proposed LEO was sent to the Supreme Court of Virginia for its consideration.
The Practising Law Institute (PLI) just posted a FREE 3-hour training program on unbundling titled, Expanding Your Practice Using Limited Scope Representation 2018, featuring M. Sue Talia. Lecture topics include:
Register for the PLI program here which is eligible for CLE credit.
The winner of the 2018 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access is the Chicago Bar Foundation for its unique dedication to increasing legal services for those of modest means. This year, the Committee is also recognizing two nominees with Meritorious Recognition, the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal and Chi City Legal. The winner of the public choice Brown Select Award is the Rural Law Opportunities Program, a partnership between the University of Nebraska College of Law, Chadron State College, the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Wayne State College. Read the ABA Press Release here.
Each year, programs and projects submit nominations for the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access. The Brown Award honors programs and projects that advance access to legal services for those of moderate incomes in ways that are exemplary and replicable. The Delivery Committee decides the winner of the Brown Award, but votes from the public (YOU!) determine which nominee receives the BROWN SELECT recognition. CLICK HERE to view the nominees and cast a vote for your favorite. Voting closes at 12pm CST January 8, 2018.
The Delivery Committee is seeking nominations for the 2018 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access. The Brown Award honors programs and projects that advance access to legal services for those of moderate incomes in ways that are exemplary and replicable. The nomination form is online, quick and easy. Deadline for nominations is Dec. 5, 2017.
In an effort to expand access to legal services in the state, the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission has proposed amendments that would expand upon the Rules of Civil Procedure regarding limited-scope representation. Currently, the practice is permitted in the state, and the new rules, if adopted by the Supreme Court, would provide additional clarity on matters such as document preparation.
On September 20, 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted amendments to its Rules of Professional Conduct and Court Rules that permit an attorney to limit the scope of representation and that govern qhostwriting, communications, notice, service and filing, and appearance and withdrawal for limited scope engagements. The new rules will go into effect January 1, 2018.
The SRLN conference, in affiliation with the Judicial Council of California's Family Law Facilitator and Self-Help Center Conference, is entitled, "Designing & Engaging the 100% Access to Civil Justice Ecosystem," and will take place Thursday, February 22-23, 2018 in San Francisco. Proposals are now being accepted through September 29, 2017.
The Iowa Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission released a report outlining recommendations and goals for removing barriers to civil justice for the low-income. The report discusses expanding limited scope representation as a means to provide more pro bono services and better serve rural areas, and recommends that the ISBA educate attorneys on limited scope representation to overcome resistance with a basis in unfamiliarity or unease.
Attorneys providing limited scope services in Oregon have recently been given more guidance by the courts. Effective August 2017, Oregon Uniform Trial Court Rule 5.170 outlines an attorney's notice, termination and service of documents duties, and provides a Notice of Limited Scope Representation form and a Notice of Termination of Limited Scope Representation form. For a detailed discussion about the new Rule and the history of limited scope representation in Oregon, read "Unbundling Legal Services: New Trial Court Rule Supports Access to Justice" in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin.
The Commission has released its 2017-2020 Strategic Plan titled, "Advancing Access to Justice in Illinois." The plan sets out a statement of principles, discusses the need for access to justice, and identifies 10 "priority initiatives" for 2017-2020 which are accompanied by a series of detailed recommendations to achieve them. Notably, initiative #9 is to, "Identify, develop, and promote the implementation of court policies and rules that promote legal representation, including limited scope representation..."
The Delivery Committee is partnering with the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) to host "Better Access through Unbundling, From Ideation to Implementation" October 26-27 in Denver. There, national authorities will lay the foundation for the creation of strategic plans for a broader implementation of unbundled legal services. Attendees will discuss: the role of unbundling in the justice ecosystem; perspectives of practitioners; best practices of state and local entities that are encouraging unbundling; collaborative opportunities to expand unbundling; and the role of technology to use unbundling to change the delivery of legal services. Register now!
The Oregon State Bar Futures Task Force have released a report titled, “The Future of Legal Services in Oregon.” The report discusses, among other topics, how the access-to-justice gap persists. How market and consumer expectations have changed, challenging the traditional and instead favoring alternative delivery models like unbundling and client-centric services that provide for greater transparency and affordability. And how new providers are stepping in to fill the void. The Task Force makes a number of detailed recommendations, some of which are to revise rules that create barriers to innovation, to establish a bar-sponsored incubator and to expand the lawyer referral service and modest means program.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court has issued an order provisionally amending Article V of the Rules of Professional Conduct to expand upon rules regarding the limited scope representation of clients. In doing so, the Court states that,"This Court recognizes that the provision of limited-scope representation services to litigants in Rhode Island is a novel and, at present, unknown frontier for the bench, bar, and lay public alike." The amendments, which establish procedures for preparing pleadings, limited appearances and withdrawal, are adopted on a provisional basis to encourage ongoing assessment and commentary. The Court will review those assessments in one year.
Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks DOJ from Preventing Limited Scope Assistance to Unrepresented Immigrants
On May 17, a federal court in Seattle issued a nationwide temporary restraining order allowing nonprofits to continue to provide limited scope assistance to immigrants facing deportation without having to formally represent them. The Northwest Immigrants Right Project (NWIRP) had previously received a letter from the Department of Justices’ Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) ordering them to “cease and desist” on the basis of a 2008 disciplinary rule that requires any attorney who “engage[s] in practice or preparation” of an immigration case to file an appearance. In response, the NWIRP filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief. The hearing on the permanent injunction will be held on July 24, 2017. Learn more in The Legal Intelligencer article, "Unpacking Unbundled Legal Services: Why Does the DOJ Care?."
UPDATE: On July 27, 2017, a federal judge ordered a more formal preliminary injunction allowing nonprofit legal groups nationwide to continue to represent imigrants facing deportation on a limited scope basis without the need for full, formal representation.
The DC Reduced Fee Lawyer & Mediator Referral Service (DC Refers) has launched an online directory of reduced fee lawyers as a pilot project. The mission of DC Refers is to "connect clients who need affordable legal and mediation services with qualified attorneys." The directory will include pre-screened attorneys who are willing to charge reduced fees to modest-means clients with incomes falling within 200-400% of the federal poverty guidelines.
Evaluation of Unbundling Providers and Consumers in Canada
Mediate BC's Family Unbundled Legal Services Project is now conducting surveys of BC family lawyers who have offered, or plan to offer, unbundled family law services as well as clients who have used such services. Read about other developments since the project's launch - including how the BC Law Society officially encouraged the provision of limited scope services and how former Ontario Court Chief Justice Bonkalo recommended more education on unbundling services in her “Family Legal Services Review“ - in this Slaw article. Similarly, those who have provided or received unbundled services through the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project are being asked to take surveys in order to gain insights into satisfaction levels. Like the BC project, the Alberta project maintains a list of lawyers who provide unbundled services.
The Judicial Council of California, with support from the Public Welfare Foundation, produced a nine-minute video to show how self-help centers can help people without lawyers with their essential civil legal needs – by guiding and referring the user to the right kind of legal help, or to relevant social services, depending on the need. California has a self-help center in every trial court jurisdiction, but the video features San Francisco, one of the most longstanding of these centers.
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.
Mediate BC's Family Unbundled Legal Services Project aims to encourage more family lawyers to offer unbundled legal services to support families using mediation. As part of Phase 1, the project sought input from BC family lawyers, family mediators and the public through online surveys, the results of which are available here. Findings show that lawyers want a more structured approach to integrating unbundled services into their practice. In response, Mediate BC created the Unbundling Toolkit for Lawyers and Paralegals. Further, Mediate BC and Access to Justice BC are working with the Courthouse Libraries BC to create a roster of family lawyers and paralegals willing to provide unbundled family law services. Lawyers who join will have the additional option of adding their names and contact information the Canadian national database of lawyers providing unbundled legal services of all types, run by the National Self-Represented Litigants Project.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has published research into the experiences of people using family law services. The results include responses from 115 firms and 117 consumers, and include in-depth interviews with 16 firms and 23 consumers. The purpose of the survey was to explore issues of access, quality and cost for potentially vulnerable consumers of family law services. Access a summary of the findings as well as the full report here.
The Legal Problem Resolution Survey, conducted by the Ministry of Justice, provides data on how people resolve their legal problems. Over 10,000 people were surveyed by telephone. The findings show that only 10% of people with legal problems use a solicitor, and often only after approaching other sources of advice first. Learn more about the results here.
Early registration is now open until February 1st for the 2017 SRLN Conference to be held February 23 to Friday, February 24 in San Francisco in affiliation with the Judicial Council of California's Family Law Facilitator and Self-Help Center Conference. This conference is for "...lawyers, judges, clerks of court, self-help services professionals, librarians, technologists, funders and other allied professionals to explore and develop successful strategies and new thinking for providing 100% access to justice." Click here to view the tentative schedule and register.
The 2017 Brown Award recipient is the Sustainable Economies Law Center. Meritorious Recognition goes to: The Center for Out-of-Court Divorce, together with Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver; the Maryland Courts Self-Help Centers; and the Chicago Bar Foundation/Justice Entrepreneurs Project Pricing Toolkit. The winner of the Brown Select Award, determined through online public voting, is Court Buddy. The awards will be presented at the ABA midyear meeting in Miami in February.
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.
Report and Recommendations of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Services
The October 2016 report from the ISBA Task Force on the Future of Legal Services explores issues facing the profession and provides recommendations to deal with them. Included in the discussion are ways to, "Preserve and Champion Lawyer Value" and "Embrace and Capture the Latent Legal Market." Access the full ISBA Task Force on the Future of Legal Services here and learn more in this Illinois Bar Journal Article.
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.
The ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services is seeking nominations for the2017 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access. The Brown Award honors programs and projects that advance access to legal services for those of moderate incomes in ways that are exemplary and replicable. The deadline for nominations is December 2, 2016.
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.
Links to Lawyers Resolution Passes in House of Delegates
The ABA House of Delegates approved Resolution 114 at the 2016 Annual Meeting. The resolution calls upon all those that provide online legal forms to the public to include clear and conspicuous links to lawyers or lawyer referral services. The Committee is working collaboratively to implement this policy. Contact Will Hornsby to share your support, questions or concerns.
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.
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 Expands into Illinois
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.
Unbundling Rule Changes in North Dakota
Starting August 1, 2016, lawyers in North Dakota will have greater flexibility when representing client 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 a preference for written consent.
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."
Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada
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.
Proposed Resolution - Links to Lawyers
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 email@example.com 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.
Luz Herrera Featured in Profile Piece Article
The magazine CounterPunch has run a profile piece on former Delivery Committee member, UCLA law professor and "social justice lawyer" Luz Herrera. The inspirational article, "From Tijuana to Harvard to Compton to UCLA Law: the Journey of Social Justice Lawyer Luz Herrera," is available here.
The Future Is Now: Innovative Client-Centric Strategies for Building Your Legal Practice Today
From the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section & The Chicago Bar Foundation, this interactive seminar will take place Friday, April 15, 2016 and will provide practical, innovative strategies for engaging and retaining more clients through more choice and flexibility in ways that resonate with client expectations. Learn more and register here.
The Commission on the Future of California’s Court System is seeking comments on proposed concepts it will explore during its Feb. 8-9 public comment session in San Francisco. Members of the public can request to speak at the comment session or submit written comments either before or after the session.
The 2016 Brown Award goes to the Suffolk University Law School Accelerator to Practice Program. Meritorious Recognition goes to the Lawyer Entrepreneur Assistance Project (LEAP), a project of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (CA). After over 3,800 votes, the winner of Brown Select is Military Mondays, a partnership between William & Mary Law School and Starbucks.
Staff Counsel to the Delivery Committee, Will Hornsby, discusses the broadening support of unbundling and the various ways bar associations can advance it in the ABA Bar Leader article,"Unbundling: The bridge between going it alone and full representation."
Former Delivery Committee member, Bonnie Hough, has been named one of The Recorder's 2015 Innovator Awards Serial Innovators. Learn more about the Awards here and about Bonnie's work at the California Administrative Office of the Courts here.
The ABA has released an ethics opinion addressing the obligations of a lawyer when communicating with a person who is receiving limited-scope representation. The opinion recommends that attorneys ask pro se litigants whether they are being represented by counsel to avoid violating the “no-contact” rule. Read Formal Ethics Opinion 472here.
The Vermont Joint Commission on the Future of Legal Services recently released a report in which it recommends, among others, incentives for lawyers to practice in rural areas, assisting lawyers with technology and creating models of unbundling and creative fee structures.
The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) has shared some preliminary results of their qualitative study, “Cases Without Counsel: New Project to Explore Experiences of Self-Representation in U.S. Family Court." The final analysis will be released in early 2016.
Last year the Legal Services Board and Legal Services Consumer Panel conducted a qualitative study looking at the unbundling experience from the perspective of consumer, provider and judge. The report is now available from the LSCP here.
The award "honors an attorney living or deceased who made a significant contribution to the legal profession through service to the profession" and will be presented to the former Delivery Committee member at the GPSolo 2015 Solo & Small Firm Summit in September.
The Grand Island Independent discusses the short supply of lawyers in some rural areas and what the Nebraska State Bar Association is doing about it in their state to increase access to legal representation.
Call for Comments on Ghostwriting
The Rhode Island Supreme Court has invited comments on the subject of its recent decision in which it held that an attorney may provide limited scope representation, but may not not ghostwrite pleadings, motions or other written submissions for a pro se litigant unless the attorney signs the document and discloses his or her identity and the extent of the assistance. Comments should be submitted to the Clerk of the Supreme Court by January 15, 2016. Read more here.
Videos of several presentations from the National Summit on Innovation in Legal Services are now available here. The Summit, held in early May, was co-sponsored by the ABA Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services and Stanford University School of Law. See the related ABA Journal article here.
A recently issued report from the Ohio Supreme Court Task Force on Access to Justice advocates for self-help centers and unbundled legal services, as well as recommends requiring that an "Access to Justice Impact Statement" accompany rule changes. Read the March 2015 Report here.
The Maryland Court of Appeals has amended its Rules of Procedure and Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct, implementing recommendations by the Maryland Access to Justice Commission to expand limited scope representation in the state. See the recent Rules Order here.
The CBA’s Access to Justice Committee has developed a series of “legal health checks” to help the general public proactively assess their legal health and identify legal problems early on. You can find all 12 “cards,” available on a variety of issues, on the CBA’s Equal Justice website.
The ABA Law Practice Division eLawyering Task Force has selected the law firm of Houghton Vandenack Williams in Omaha, Nebraska as the recipient of the 2015 James I. Keane Memorial Award for excellence in eLawyering. The award will be presented during the ABA Techshow on April 16th.
A recent Daily Report article discusses how Georgia is looking at Project Rural Practice in South Dakota as a guide to address their own shortage of rural lawyers, and how legislation has been introduced in Georgia to address the issue.
Unbundling Webinar Featured in ABA E-News
YOUR ABA, e-news for members, recently featured M. Sue Talia in a discussion about limited scope representation. The discussion included limitations, ethical considerations, and trends that led to its demand. It also highlighted the recent ABA webinarfrom the Delivery Committee on unbundling, also featuring Talia.
In Their Own Words...A Video Featuring Incubator Lawyers
"In Their Own Words" shows how lawyers from around the country share the benefits of incubator projects - highlighting opportunities for public service, the value of practice management training and mentor relations, and the advantages of camaraderie with one another. View the video or download the file here.
Registration now open for Hackcess to Justice...an Access to Justice Hackathon
The ABA Journal and the Louisiana State Bar are hosting a 2-day event (March 21-22) challenging participants to help Louisiana’s legal aid community by creating a technology-enabled solution for the numerous challenges faced by citizens who cannot afford a lawyer and the lawyers trying to serve them.Register now.
NY Access to Justice Program Annual Report
The New York State Access to Justice Program has released its 2014 annual report. The report summarizes efforts made by the Program to deliver legal services, assistance and information to self-represented litigants in New York.
2014 Year in Review
A lot happened last year with the delivery of legal services for those of moderate means. This annual overview highlights articles, reports, policies, initiatives, research and more from 2014.
A New Way Self-help Centers Can Serve Consumers
A recent ABA Journal article features the Delivery Committee’s Self-Help Center Census, focusing on the potential for using self-help centers as a pipeline between consumers who can afford legal services but still aren't getting them, and lawyers offering unbundled services. The article quotes former Committee member Bonnie Hough and current Committee Chair Bill Hogan, III.
An upcoming study by the Legal Services Board (LSB) and Legal Services Consumer Panel in the UK will look at the potential benefits and risks of unbundling legal services. The LSB had previously released a literature review on the subject. The study will focus on civil and family litigation and the possible expansion of unbundling to immigration cases.
Three ABA Journal Legal Rebels explain how it’s possible to provide individual attention to clients in a virtual firm setting in the recent ABA Journal podcast, “How do you provide client hand-holding if you run a virtual firm?” The podcast, transcript included, features current Committee member Stephanie Kimbro as well as former Committee member Fred Rooney.
A Day at the Courthouse Clinic
Posted in the “Great Reads” section of the LA Times, the article “Legal clinic polishes non-lawyers' civil suits” depicts an average day in one LA courthouse clinic, and the stories of 15 individuals who visited the clinic that day who are navigating the legal system alone. In a district where the number of pro se litigants has doubled in recent years, clinic volunteers are there to guide visitors through the legal process, or just lend an ear when it matters most.
Updated Unbundling White Paper and Collection of Rules
“An Analysis of Rules that Enable Lawyers to Serve Self-Represented Litigants,” as well as the appendices with a collection of those rules, was originally presented in 2005 when lawyers were reluctant to provide unbundled services because of limited clarity in the rules governing ethics and procedure. The White Paper enabled policy-makers in various states to have an overview of the issues and templates for addressing each of them. The Committee updated the Paper in 2009 with the addition of several state rules and has now incorporated changes since then into this 2014 version. The changes reflect substantial policy shifts among several states that have been responsive toward the need to improve access to affordable legal services.
Court-sponsored self-help centers began helping self-represented people in Arizona in the early 1990s. Today approximately 500 centers serve nearly 3.7 million people annually in courthouses and libraries across the country. The Delivery Committee has released a survey of these centers with details on staffing, funding, types of services that are provided and the nature of the centers’ customers. Access the ABA Journal article here.
Rebecca Sandefur and the American Bar Foundation have recently released the results of their Community Needs and Services Study (CNSS), a study on the civil justice experiences of a middle-sized American city. The 18-month study found that 66% reported having at least one problem involving a civil legal aspect, but only 22% reported seeking outside assistance. Interestingly, cost concerns only factored into 17% of the cases where respondents did not seek assistance for their civil justice situation from third parties such as lawyers – a bigger problem was not understanding that their situation was even legal in nature.
The Superior Court of the District of Columbia recently issued Administrative Order 14-10, permitting paid and pro bono limited scope representation in the Civil, Probate and Tax Divisions, the Family Court, and the Domestic Violence Unit and providing additional guidelines on matters such as termination of representation and service.
In a recent Illinois State Bar Association Bench and Bar newsletter, Illinois Appellate Justice Michael B. Hyman explains "Why judges should embrace limited scope representation."
The proposal by the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission to add a new “access to justice” topic to the state’s bar exam has been approved and will go into effect in 2016. The goal is to better prepare graduates to represent persons of low and moderate means in order to help them address the justice gap and build more successful practices in the current legal market.
In a recent opinion, the Orange County Bar Association’s ethics committee found that a lawyer may use another contract lawyer or out-of-state lawyer to ghostwrite court documents without having to disclose that assistance to the court.
This report summarizes the discussion from the November 7, 2013 DC Bar meeting at which attendees discussed ways to match un- and under-employed attorneys with those of modest means in need of legal services.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has unanimously adopted a petition to expand upon its limited scope representation rules; the amendments offer necessary safeguards and guidance to attorneys providing limited scope services in Wisconsin.
A new pilot program in Connecticut allows limited scope representation in divorce and family proceedings, allowing the self-represented to hire attorneys for only specific parts of their cases. In the first 6 weeks of operation, attorneys filed limited representation appearances in 56 cases.
Experienced virtual lawyers offer their insight for the ABA Journal article, Lawyers’ definitions of virtual practice vary, but not when it comes to finding success, in which they define the concept, offer advice for a successful virtual firm, and warn of potential concerns, ethical and otherwise.
This Portland Press Herald article calls for reform in Maine's family courts to address the exclusion of the middle class from access to justice and the resulting high number of self-represented litigants.
A 2013 review that includes articles, bar publications, reports, events, court rules, policies, initiatives, and models; those supported by the Standing Committee as well the work of other entities that share a dedication to improving access to justice.
The annual report details the Access to Justice Program's 2013 efforts and initiatives to improve equal access to justice for unrepresented litigants in the New York State Courts.
The Task Force, an ABA Presidential Initiative to advance innovations that marshal the resources of lawyers to expand access to legal services, held an open forum at the 2014 ABA Midyear Meeting; those in attendance offered input on programs aimed at alleviating problems associated with the lack of access to justice, discussing models such as rural support programs and legal incubators.
Enterprise Fund Awarded
The Board of Governors has funded the Blueprint to Enhance Legal Services and Alleviate Under-Employment of Lawyers. The Delivery Committee is leading the year-long collaborative project that seeks solutions based on systemic changes in the delivery of legal services to clients with low and moderate incomes.
A federal appeals court overturns sanctions imposed on lawyers after an employee at their law firm helped a client fill in the blanks of a bankruptcy petition without disclosing that assistance when the document was filed with the U.S. bankruptcy court.
The Illinois Supreme Court amends its rules to help clarify the procedures for providing limited scope representation to encourage attorneys to provide such services.
The NCSC's Center on Court Access to Justice for All provides a series of Access Briefs to help courts ensure that self-represented litigants have access to the information and services they need.
The Judiciary of England and Wales' Judicial Working Group on Litigants in Person has issue a report which includes a number of technology-related recommendations.
Under a pilot program, Connecticut will for the first time begin allowing unbundling. If the program is found to be successful, unbundling may be expanded to additional types of legal matters in the state.
The National Center for Access to Justice partners with Pfizer Inc and 15 law firms to examine the treatment of self represented litigants in child support cases.
Besides reaching people who need help through their pastors, rabbis and imams, a Tennessee faith-based initiative also works through houses of worship to recruit the attorneys who donate their services.
Illinois amends court rules to clarify and encourage limited scope representation, thus lessening the legal costs in civil cases for clients of limited means.
Technology facilitates more efficient and cost effective communication, helping lawyers provide better legal services to more clients.
Article discusses ethical issues that arise in the context of unbundled legal services.
Wisconsin Law Review article authored by Catherine Albiston and Rebecca Sandefur discusses the need to expand access to justice research to include the average litigant.
Recognizing that pro bono work can only address some of the significant legal needs of low and middle income communities, 'low bono' work is increasingly bridging the gap.
University of Windsor professor, Julie Macfarlane releases study on self-represented litigants in three Canadian provinces. The full report contains a number of detailed recommendations for improvement.
Governor Dennis Daugaard has signed HB 1096 into law, making South Dakota the first state in the nation to have legislation designed specifically to assist recruitment of attorneys into rural areas.
Updates to Nova Scotia Barristers' Society's Code of Professional Conduct expand access to legal services for those who cannot afford a lawyer for an entire case and who are not eligible for legal aid.
LegalForce Store Opens in Palo Alto, CA
In an effort to make legal assistance more accessible, LegalForce opens a store in Palo Alto. See LegalForces's promotional video for more information.
Recently, Legal Aid of Nebraska opened a store-front Access to Justice (A2J) office in Lincoln for people who need help with civil matters. The idea came in response to the fact that at least one party in more than half of civil cases in court does not have an attorney.
President of The Law Society of England and Wales suggests that offering unbundled services may be the key to legal aid survival.
Law school firms address two problems: heavily indebted law graduates with no clients and the vast number of Americans unable to afford a lawyer.
Court-approved standardized forms for pro se litigants are being promoted as one way the legal system can be made less intimidating and complicated. Illinois, being one of two states without such standardized forms, may be about to make a change.
Chicago-Kent's innovative law school program gives new admittees office space and real-world experience under the guidance of former professors, meanwhile providing low-cost legal services for the public.
Based on a recent amendment adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court, as of February 1, New Jersey lawyers no longer need a traditional brick-and-mortar office to practice.
Law Review Article on Washington State Legal Technician Rule
The new Washington State Limited Legal Technician Rule is discussed at length in a recent law review article. Access the article as well as Richard Zorza's discussion on the development in his blog
Stephanie Kimbro discusses opportunities for today's lawyers, social media, unbundling, and ethical guidelines for the practice of law over the Internet.
As many women lawyers continue to leave the legal profession due to the demanding hours of working for a law firm, virtual practices are beginning to thrive. Five steps to developing a virtual practice are presented, an approach to being a lawyer that offers better work-life balance.
The Australian Centre for Justice Innovation has released a report and literature review of self-represented litigants (SRLs) in the civil justice system in Australia and makes recommendations to improve the collection of data relating to SRLs.
Connecticut Judicial Branch committee considers whether the state should emulate a Washington State initiative that provides reduced-price legal help to people of moderate means.
The Texas Supreme Court approves divorce forms for indigent pro se litigants. The forms are approved for use in uncontested divorces that do not involve children or real property.
Federal Courts in Canada plan a novel approach of providing Internet-based unofficial, non-legal, and user friendly summaries and checklists concerning legal procedural steps and the completion of legal forms.
Atlanta law firm addresses legal needs by opening Justice Café, charging $75 an hour for a la carte help in divorces and other family law matters, with no retainers up front, unlike most family law firms.
The fall of the housing market has fueled a surge of do-it-yourself divorces, making self-representation the new normal. Divorce apps for smart phones and online child support calculators are just the beginning of a nationwide shift in the divorce marketplace.
Stephanie Kimbro makes the case that law firms must find ways to adapt to the changing legal marketplace by integrating unbundling as a form of legal service delivery.
Recently published book, Middle Income Access to Justice discusses Canada's staggering number of individuals trying to navigate an increasingly complex civil justice system without any or adequate legal assistance.
Article discusses emerging virtual law firm models and available legal-specific online practice management tools that are developing and expanding regularly.
While thousands of new law graduates fret about the chronic joblessness that awaits them, tens of millions of Americans need attorneys but cannot afford them. With prudent office economics, recent law graduates could earn decent compensation by serving lawyerless middle class clients.
An increasing trend of self-representation of litigants poses serious challenges for courts. Bar associations and courts in Illinois have developed programs to help these litigants press their cases.
Article discusses how empirical research can inform service delivery, resource allocation, and access-to-justice questions.
Michigan State University Law Professor, Renee Newman Knake presents a slide show addressing innovation in the delivery of legal services and how legal education can play a role.
A project at IIT Chicago-Kent will help establish cyber clinics as a permanent part of U.S. law school education. Skills learned in such clinics will be relevant to modern law practice as it increasingly relies on technology.
The Law Society of Upper Canada updated its rules to give guidance to the growing number of lawyers offering unbundled services in the legal community. Article discusses some of the reactions from the legal community.
Work begins on redesigning A2J Author® for use on a cell phone, enabling greater access to justice for self-represented litigants.
Solo attorneys and micro-boutiques deploy virtual office strategies to enhance their professional image, improve client acquisition, and increase productivity.
An infographic from TelAssistant demonstrates four trends reshaping the legal industry and how lawyers can benefit from these trends.
With the advent of the virtual law office, the lawyering landscape is changing dramatically. Some firms and lawyers use aspects of VLO technology to augment their physical offices, while others have abandoned the physical office by fully embracing the VLO model.
The Washington Supreme Court adopts a new rule allowing non-lawyers with certain levels of training to provide technical help on simple legal matters.
Article reports on the first study about the decisions of Ontario family litigants regarding whether to have a lawyer or proceed pro se.
A tough economy results in an increased need for legal aid in the suburbs of Chicago, putting pressure on the courts. Courthouse self-help centers have been used as a method to address the problem.
A competition sponsored by Georgetown Law's Center for the Study of the Legal Profession challenges students to develop applications that solve a legal practice problem. See the competition featured on PBS Nightly Business Report here.
OnlineTNJustice.org, a Nashville-based website, delivers free legal assistance to low-income residents. The site allows clients to request advice about specific civil legal issues, to be answered by volunteer lawyers.
California Bankruptcy Court Self-Help
Virtual Law Offices Blooming Everywhere
Virtual Law Practices allow for lower legal fees, providing low-cost options for both lawyers and clients.
A self-help center in the District Court of Maryland has expanded its services to assist litigants across the state, through live chat and phone services.
A draft proposal by the Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission will make it easier for lawyers to offer unbundled legal services.
Indiana Permits Limited Appearances
A recent amendement to Trial Rule 3.1 will allow Indiana attorneys to make limited appearances. The rule also governs withdrawal of representation.
With the release of its feasibility study, Wisconsin will now focus on detailed recommendations to implement unbundling.
A report issued by the Illinois Joint Task Force on Limited Scope Representation promotes unbundling and recommends a number of rule changes.
The Report of Limited Representation Pilot Projects details the work of the Self-Represented Study Committee and its efforts to advance unbundling and self-help in Kansas.
Stephanie Kimbro’s ebook is available at no-cost and is a great resource for lawyers interested in unbundling.
An editorial in the CT Law Tribune advocates for the use of unbundled legal services in Connecticut.
Formal Opinion 2011-183 finds that limited scope representation is expressly allowed by Oregon RPC 1.2(b) and clarifies that an attorney may limit representation to certain actions or issues.
Montana Adopts Unbundling Rules
New rules in Montana are meant to encourage limited scope representation by attorneys.
The Moderate Means Program, a partnership between the Washington State Bar Association and three Washington law schools, is a statewide reduced-fee lawyer referral services designed to increase access to justice for people of moderate means.
Susan Cartier Liebel addresses the ways in which the internet, as well as the do-it-yourself trend fueled by the recession, has changed the way consumers conduct business.
An article appearing on Law.com addresses the struggle law libraries face as they assist an increasing number of pro se litigants with limited funds.
Courts Address Problem of Rising Number of People Who Represent Themselves
An article appearing in the Nashua Telegraph examines the growing trend of pro se representation in New Hampshire courts. According to State Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick Jr., who is quoted in the article, pro se representation is the single biggest challenge facing state courts in America. To help address the challenges posed by pro se litigants, New Hampshire has proposed a rule change that would allow judges to explain the court process without committing an ethical violation.
County May Eliminate Help Desk at Courthouse
A self-help center in Champaign County, Illinois may close its doors due to funding concerns. The self-help center, which is located in the county courthouse and receives funding through the library, is one of several programs affected by budget cuts. The volunteer-run program has been in operation since 2005 and projections suggest that 2,000 people will use the self-help center this year, at a cost of about $6 per person.
According to an article in the ABA Journal, ghostwriting leads to better-prepared litigants and may help courts run more efficiently. The article details how the practice has become more widely accepted and how a number of states have revised their ethics and procedural rules to define a lawyer’s responsibility when drafting documents for pro se litigants. The article references the Delivery Committee white paper and includes excerpts from an interview with Delivery Committee chair, Richard T. Cassidy.
Canadian Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin discusses the advantages of unbundling. According to Chief Justice McLachlin, unbundling offers an affordable option for litigants who might otherwise proceed pro se and is currently being explored as a method to increase access to justice in Canadian courts.
An Illinois proposal aims to make it easier for lawyers to unbundle. Although the Rules of Professional Conduct already permit Illinois attorneys to offer unbundled legal services, proposed rule changes would offer clearer guidance on limited appearances, document preparation, service and communication in unbundled cases. To learn more about the proposal. The link includes additional resources and a Q & A for attorneys interested in unbundling.
The Alabama State Bar recently released an ethics opinion on unbundled legal services. According to the opinion, the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct allow a lawyer to limit the scope of representation. The opinion also addresses ghostwriting and finds that, in ordinary circumstances, a lawyer is not required to disclose drafting assistance to the court.
In a guest post for the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program blog, Stephanie Kimbro discusses the virtual practice of law. In the post, Kimbro covers the basics, defining virtual law practices, while also discussing the technology and ethics considerations involved when delivery legal services online. The post includes information on unbundling and provides resources so that lawyers may ethically integrate unbundling into their virtual law practice.
The State Bar of Michigan has issued an ethics opinion on unbundled legal services. According to the opinion, an attorney may assist a pro se litigant by giving advice or preparing documents as long as the attorney complies with the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct. An attorney who assists a pro se litigant is not required to appear in any proceeding and is not required to disclose the assistance to the court or opposing counsel.
Attorney Mazie Harris recently opened Barista Espresso Corp, a Chicago legal café. Modeled after the California-based Legal Grind, founded by Jeff Hughes, the legal café has a staff of twenty attorneys who specialize in all types of law. The café is also a full-service coffee shop. To learn, watch the video segment from WGN-TV.
In an interview on GAL Radio, Richard Granat of DirectLaw discusses the ways in which lawyers use technology to deliver legal services online. He identifies the benefits and risks associated with virtual law offices. Granat also stresses the importance of ethical compliance and encourages lawyers to meet the ABA’s minimum requirements for delivering legal services online.
Unbundling Legal Services: What Are They, Who Are They for, and How Do I Get Started?
In the latest edition of Law Trends & News, Kevin Chern provides an overview of unbundled legal services. Chern discusses the difference between unbundled services and legal document preparation services and identifies benefits to both attorneys and consumers. In addition, he offers suggestions for attorneys who would like to offer unbundled services, while stressing the importance of marketing.
NYCLA Approves Ghostwriting Papers for Pro Se Litigants
In a recently released ethics opinion, the New York County Lawyer’s Association finds that it is ethically permissible for an attorney to prepare pleadings and other submissions for pro se litigants. It does not require the lawyer to disclose such assistance, except in certain, limited situations. The opinion concludes that a client’s interests are best served by allowing limited scope representation.
Help for Those Who Can’t Afford a Lawyer
An op-ed written by Wallace Jefferson, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, and Harry M. Reasoner, chair of the Texas Access to Justice Commission, addresses the challenges self-represented litigants face when accessing the courts. Jefferson and Reasoner conclude that the courts must find ways to simplify the system for those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. The op-ed highlights the Texas Forum on Self-Represented Litigants, to be held in Dallas on April 8-10, as one way to explore how to help litigants protect their rights in Texas Courts. To learn more about the Texas Forum on Self-Represented Litigants, view the Delivery Committee Event Calendar.
Online Self-Help System Gets Upgrade, New Name
National Public Automated Documents Online (NPADO), the web-based program designed to help litigants prepare legal documents and managed by Pro Bono Net, has a new name – LawHelp Interactive. In addition to the name change, Law Help Interactive now has improved software that will make it even easier to create court forms and legal documents.
Delivery Committee Releases 2009 Annual Report
The Delivery Committee has released its first-ever annual report. Titled Agenda for Access, the report is a compilation of articles, reports, trainings and projects from the last calendar year. Agenda for Access summarizes the work of the Delivery Committee, while also including efforts from others who are working to increase access for those of moderate income.
The Future ‘Middle Class’ of the Legal Profession – Unbundled Legal Services
A post by Susan Cartier Liebel of Build a Solo Practice discusses the latent legal market and suggests ways for lawyers to compete with document preparation companies. In the post, Cartier Liebel encourages lawyers to offer unbundled legal services as a way to assist clients and make a profit.
A Nation of Do-It-Yourself Lawyers
In an article appearing in the New York Times, John T. Broderick, Chief Justice of New Hampshire, and Ronald M. George, Chief Justice of California, promote efforts that close the “justice gap.” Broderick and George highlight the benefits of unbundled legal services and encourage members of the legal profession to increase access to justice through unbundled legal services and other innovative delivery methods.
Recession Forces More People with Legal Problems to Represent Themselves in Court
Greg Risling, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, examines the rising trend of pro se representation in Los Angeles, as well as the resources available to assist litigants. According to the article, an increasing number of litigants are appearing pro se, as the need for legal help has soared due to foreclosures, bankruptcies and other recession-related ordeals. To help these litigants navigate the legal system, over one dozen self-help centers now operate within Los Angeles County.
Fixed Fees Needn’t Mean Working More for Less (or for Free)
As consumer clients continue to demand alternative fee arrangements, columnist Jim Colloway discusses the ways in which attorneys can reduce risk while meeting client needs and maintaining revenue. Calloway suggests that attorneys who offer alternative fee agreements should use task-based billing, conduct preemptive communication strikes, employ change orders and improve fee agreements.
The American Bar Association’s eLawyering Task Force has issued recommendations for law firms that wish to deliver legal services online. Published for comment, the draft set of minimum suggested requirements address topics such as web site architecture, ethics issues, online payment of legal fees and security certification.
Kansas Ethics Opinion Requires Disclosure on Ghostwritten Pleadings
The Kansas Bar Association released Legal Ethics Opinion No. 09-01 finding that, while the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct do permit limited scope representation, a lawyer who prepares pleadings for an otherwise pro se litigant must disclose such assistance. According to the opinion, a lawyer who ghostwrites a pleading must include the phrase “Prepared with Assistance of Counsel”, but need not provide identifying information such as name, bar number or address. The opinion also provides guidelines for communication in cases where a litigant has retained an attorney on a limited scope basis.
Program Recap: Practicing Law in a Tough Economy
In a recent post, Legal Ease Blog reviewed the program “Practicing Law in a Tough Economy- Innovations in Client Relations” held at the 2009 National Solo and Small Firm Conference. Sponsored by the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, the program included topics on innovative methods of outreach, partnering with clients to create unbundled legal services and the development of highly focused niche practices.
Legal Malpractice Carrier Offers Podcast on Limited Scope Representation
The Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company has released a podcast on limited scope representation. In the podcast, Diane Diel, Wisconsin family law attorney and former State Bar President, discusses the benefits and risks associated with limited scope representation. To listen, click here.
Maryland Aims to Increase Access for Self-Represented Litigants
In its Interim Report and Recommendations, the Maryland Access to Justice Commission has outlined several recommendations meant to increase access to justice for self-represented litigants. These recommendations include endorsing the practice of limited scope representation, supporting the use of court based self-help centers, and gathering additional data on self-represented litigants. The report also includes a white paper on limited scope representation in Maryland and a survey that will be distributed to self-represented litigants.
The latest edition of the American Bar Association’s Bar Leader Toolkit focuses on the delivery of legal services. The toolkit offers information that helps lawyers think about options for providing legal representation other than full-service, and includes resources from the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.
Trained Librarians Help Those Who Can’t Afford a Lawyer
A report by Danielle Kaeding of Wisconsin Public Radio discusses the Public Library Initiative, a court-sponsored program aimed at meeting the legal service needs of self-represented litigants. As part of the initiative, court staff will offer training to public librarians so that librarians can then assist self-represented litigants within Wisconsin. The program will help to alleviate the strain on court staff, as the courts struggle to meet the needs of an increasing number of self-represented litigants.
Updated White Paper on Unbundling Available
The Delivery Committee has issued a revised white paper examining rules that clarify the role of lawyers who assist self-represented litigants, entitled An Analysis of Rules that Enable Lawyers to Serve Pro Se Litigants. The paper discusses recently adopted provisions of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as several rules within the states' ethics codes and rules of procedure. Issues include document preparation, limited court appearances and withdrawal procedures and proper communications between lawyers and pro se litigants. The paper is designed to assist policy-makers assess the issues and includes a checklist of factors to consider.
Pro Se Divorce is on the Rise
An article featured in Virginia Lawyers Weekly and written by Peter Vieth reports that more people in Virginia are representing themselves in divorce proceedings. The article offers possible explanations for the increase and also discusses a project that will make basic forms available to Virginians seeking an uncontested divorce.
The University of Florida Levin College of Law sponsors an innovative clinic that offers unbundled services to otherwise self-represented litigants. Legal Skills Professor Peggy F. Schrieber teaches and supervises interns enrolled in the Family Law Pro Se/Unbundling Advice Clinic, who learn how to provide unbundled services such as advice, document preparation and limited appearances. Through the clinic, interns determine the legal needs of their self-represented clients and then represent them on a limited basis in the Eighth Judicial Circuit Family Court.
Elizabeth Stawicki of Minnesota Public Radio reports on Minnesota’s state-wide Self-Help Center. The report includes information on the services available through the self-help center and also provides recent statistics that suggest an increasing number of litigants in Minnesota proceed without an attorney.
Recession Forces More to Act as Own Lawyer
Chicago Tribune reporter John Keilman explores a growing trend in self-represented litigation as the economy forces more people to represent themselves. In the article, Keilman details the experiences of several individuals who represented themselves in the Cook County courts. The article also provides information on resources intended to help self-represented litigants navigate the often complicated legal system.
The Wisconsin State Bar Professional Ethics Committee recently released Ethics Opinion E-09-03 finding that, in every representation, an attorney must inform the client of the scope of the representation, the basis of the rate or fee, and any expenses for which the client will be responsible. The communication, whether required in writing or permitted verbally, must provide a clear description of the services and the matter for which the attorney has been retained. When oral communication concerning the scope of representation is permitted, communicating any limitations on the scope of representation in writing protects both the attorney and client. The opinion supersedes an earlier opinion, E-91-2.
In an article for the Wisconsin Law Journal, Jack Zemlicka finds that family law mediation has increased as people seek alternatives to litigation and as the courts seek to alleviate high rates of pro se representation. In Wisconsin, courts have established programs that refer mediation cases to family law attorneys. The programs, according to Zemlicka, offer a cost-efficient way for clients to settle family law disputes while also generating business for family law attorneys.
Limited Assistance Representation
An article by GateHouse News Service examines limited assistance representation, also known as unbundling, in Massachusetts. Following a May 1st order to allow limited assistance representation in all Massachusetts Trial Courts, the practice was soon expanded to all Probate and Family Courts. Members of the Massachusetts judiciary believe that limited assistance representation will improve access and the delivery of justice in local courts. According to the article, Massachusetts attorneys may also benefit from limited assistance representation as attorneys may now accept cases they would have previously turned away.
Connecticut Makes Recommendations to Assist Self-Represented Parties
The Connecticut Public Service and Trust Commission Strategic Plan Phase One Implementation Report includes recommendations made by the Committee on Self-Represented Parties, a committee charged with examining ways to assist self-represented litigants as they access the court system. Recommendations from the Committee, and its five sub-committees, range from the creation of plain language forms to the development of unbundling pilot projects. For more information on the work of the Committee, click here.
Pro Se Bankruptcies Drain Court Resources
An article written by Jessica Stephen and published in the Wisconsin Law Journal examines the growing number of pro se litigants in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. According to the article, bankruptcy filings in the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin have increased thirty percent. The increase, coupled with the number of pro se litigants using bankruptcy petition preparers, has strained the court system and caused a backlog of cases. In response, the Court has developed standardized forms in an effort to save time and increase efficiency.
The New York State Unified Court System recently released interactive forms to help self-represented litigants navigate the legal system. Through the use of A2J Author software, litigants who visit CourtHelp and LawHelpNY are guided through the process to complete Support Modification Petitions, Small Estates Affidavits, and Adult Name Change Petitions. To learn more about the project, and the partnerships involved, read the press release.
Unbundled Legal Services Increasingly Popular
In an article for Lawyers USA, Correy E. Stephenson explores the increased popularity of unbundled legal services. The article highlights how unbundled legal services may benefit both attorneys and clients, and how many courts now encourage the use of unbundling to assist an increasing number of pro se litigants.
An interactive learning program is being developed so that Wisconsin court clerks may better assist self-represented litigants. The program, titled Walking the Line, will use video vignettes and quizzes to focus on how clerks may offer appropriate assistance to self-represented litigants. Learn more about Walking the Line.
The State Bar of California Board of Governors approved a resolution that encourages the expansion of limited scope legal assistance. The resolution calls on bar leaders, law schools, lawyer referral services, insurance carries and the courts to promote the increased use of limited scope representation to serve low and moderate income Californians.
Big Jump in Pro Se Cases
An article written by Jerry Crimmins and published in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin examines the growing number of pro se litigants in the Cook County court system. Statistics presented in the article suggest more people are representing themselves in response to the current recession. The article provides information on the self-help resources available, and how such programs often struggle to meet the needs of the pro se litigants.
The Kansas Supreme Court announced a pilot project on limited scope representation. The project, developed by the Self-Represented Study Committee, includes courts from three judicial districts. The pilot will commence on July 1, 2009, with an evaluation period lasting until December 1, 2010. As part of the project, the Self-Represented Study Committee also developed court forms to be used in limited scope representation.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recently issued an order expanding limited assistance representation. The order, effective May 1, 2009, follows the completion of the Limited Assistance Representation Pilot Project and concludes that limited assistance representation helps expand access to justice in the trial courts.
The Commercial Trial Assistance Project will engage several Vancouver law firms in providing pro bono legal consultations and reduced-rate legal representation at trial to middle-income commercial litigants.
New York State Report Addresses Access for Self-Represented Litigants
The Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives recently released Expanding Access to Justice in New York State. The ten-year report includes information on initiatives that improve access for self-represented litigants.
Another Sign of Tough Times: Legal Aid for the Middle Class
An article written by Carol J. Williams and published in the LA Times examines resources available to help those affected by the current economic crisis. Online legal services, self-help centers and unbundling are all discussed as options for individuals seeking affordable legal services.
It's All About Documenting Scope (The Advocate of the Idaho State Bar, September 2015)
ADR Tech: The Times? They are a-Changin' (The Peacemaker)
Unbundling Legal Services Assists Clients in a Tough Economy (Minnesota Lawyer)
Embarking on a Virtual Odyssey, Ultimately to Save Money (California Bar Journal)
Help for Working Poor Clients (California Bar Journal)
Access to Justice – A Judge’s Perspective (Wyoming Lawyer)
We need to elevate the average person’s knowledge for preventative legal checkups, but how? A discussion from Above the Law.
Above the Law discusses how bar associations are helping lawyers meet their ethical obligation to stay abreast of technological advancements.
Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog discusses an August 2017 Oklahoma Bar Association event dedicated to limited scope representation.
With the recent addition of Nebraska, now 28 states have adopted the duty of technology competence.
Richard Granat's eLawyering blog discusses the upcoming conference hosted by the ABA Delivery Committee and IAALS, "“Better Access through Unbundling: From ideation to implementation."
The Voices for Civil Justice blog discusses the findings of research studying voter's opinions on access to the civil justice system.
A discussion in Solo Practicve University's blog about the writing requirement (or lack thereof) for limited scope informed consent.
Robert Ambrogi discusses a new cloud-based lawyer referral service that makes it possible for someone to get a referral 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Access to justice project in Alberta funded by Law Foundation of Ontario
A Canadian Lawyer Magazine Blog post discussing the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project.
This is the second of a two-part Buffalo Business First article analyzing limited scope representation and its status in New York.
This is the first of a two-part Buffalo Business First article analyzing limited scope representation and its status in New York.
Richard Zorza discusses the merits of attending the upcoming Self-Represented Litigation Network conference.
Dave Pantzer discusses the October 14th Maryland Access to Justice Commission and Maryland State Bar Association Section on Delivery of Legal Services conference, “Building an Effective Limited Scope Practice in Maryland.”
To learn more about attitudes toward, and experience with, unbundling, Mediate BC conducted online surveys of family lawyers, family mediators and the public. Survey responses from are being released through a series of posts on the BC Mediation Blog. Check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Table Comparing Three New Different ATJ Sets of Recommendations Should Help Move Collaboration Forward
Richard Zorza makes a side-by-side comparison of the Guidance for NCSC Grants for Strategic Planning, the Report of the ABA Commission of the Future of Legal Services, and the NCSC/IILS Civil Justice Initiative Report.
We Now Have the Data That shows That The One-Side-Self-Represented Case is the Dominant Case Situation in US Civil State Courts and That We Need a Fundamental Rethink of The State Civil Justice System
Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog
Richard Zorza discusses the recommendation to create a National Commission on Uniform Court Forms to generate model forms to be used by both represented and unrepresented litigants on a multi-state basis.
Richard Zorza created a chart that shows the relationship of Justice for All Components to the ABA Futures Commission Recommendations.
North Carolina Restricts the Distribution of Legal Self-Help Software to Consumers
In his eLawyering Blog, Richard Granat discusses implications of new legislation out of North Carolina that imposes restrictions on distributing self-help legal software over the Web.
Through his LawSites blog, Robert Ambrogi created a list of legal technology start-ups and is asking the public to notify him of additions or changes.
Richard Zorza discusses the new Guide and how reaching 100% access will include use and understanding of remote services.
The ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services has requested comment on its Issues Paper Concerning Legal Checkups.
Richard Zorza recommends the Self-Represented Litigants Network Access to Justice Twitter Trends, a new resource that highlights developments in the ATJ community.
In his Law Sites blog, Robert Ambrogi discusses LegalYou.com, part portal for self-represented litigants and part storefront for unbundled services.
Richard Zorza shares an abstract from his upcoming Georgetown Jornal of Legal Ethics paper, "An Introductory Exploration of Five Broad New Ideas on How to Cut Through the Access to Justice-Commercialization-Deregulation Conundrum."
Richard Zorza discusses the lack of incentives towards access to justice in our current system and how the problem is not a lack of models or resources but a lack of energy and planning.
Richard Zorza encourages readers to vote for the Delivery Committee's Brown Select recognition, and discusses how the range of innovations from the nominees can be seen as both "a celebration and a challenge."
In his e-Lawyering blog, Richard Granat discusses excepting law firms that serve low and moderate income individuals from rules prohibiting private capital in order to facilitate the development of innovative software solutions.
Michigan: Flat Fees, Automated Forms and Affordable Payment Plans Combine to Create a Profitable Practice for Modest Means Clients.
In light of the 50th law firm incubator being posted in the Delivery Committee's resources, Richard Zorza raises questions about the impact programs have on lawyers and access to justice.
List of Tweets About Client-Centric Legal Services Conference
A post chronicling some of the Tweets from attendees of the Client-Centric Legal Services: Getting from Here to There conference that took place August 14-15.
Richard Granat dicusses the upcoming conference in Denver, Colorado on August 14 -15, titled: Client-Centric Legal Services: Getting From Here to There.
In his eLawyering Blog, Richard Granat discusses how unbundling will grow as a trend within the marketplace.
The Legal Profession Blog discusses the Rhode Island Supreme Court decision holding ghostwriting improper.
Niloufar Khonsari, founder of Pangea Legal Services, talks about how nonprofits can fill a gap and be sustainable.
Richard Zorza discusses the new Illinois Supreme Court Order clarifying the types of assistance court staff and volunteers can offer self-represented litigants.
Richard Zorza discusses how the International Justice Center for Postgraduate Development at Touro Law Center and Lexis have announced an arrangement by which lawyers in incubators will get free Lexis tools for a year.
Zorza shares Wayne Moore's comments to the new ABA Commission, as well as some of his own, on providing legal services to those of moderate income.
Zorza discusses how the Court excused an attorney's absence from hearings because of a limited scope agreement.
Katherine Alteneder of the Self-Represented Litigation Network discusses the Self-Help Center Census and suggests ways to expand self-help services on Zorza's ATJ blog.
Unbundle your services, reinvent your billing model
The Access to Justice in Canada Blog explains how unbundling is a good alternative to the billable hour.
Robert Ambrogi discusses the recently launched legal incubator, Justice Bridge.
In his blog, LawSites, Robert Ambrogi discusses the launch of the new web-based version of A2J Author.
Zorza discusses how the California Access to Justice Commission has "taken the lead" with the CA incubator movement.
Richard Zorza discusses the conference,Enhancing Social JusticeThroughThe Development of Incubators & Residency Programs, and how incubators can "recast the role of the legal profession."
In his Access to Justice Blog, Richard Zorza discusses the idea of putting ATJ issues on the bar exam and provides the proposed list of topics to be added.
Stephanie Kimbro provides 15 questions to help determine whether a client is a good candidate for unbundling.
Forbes contributor Cari Sommer makes the argument that this is a good time for legal entrepreneurship and discusses some trends we can expect to see.
Stephanie Kimbro discusses the creation of an educational game that will engage players on an emotional level to help them think about real-world legal issues.
The Law Society's recently published guidance for lawyers in England planning on offering unbundled services are summarized and discussed by family law blogger, Marilyn Stowe.
Stephanie Kimbro posts a list of the top updates in virtual law practice from the past 6 months.
Robert Minto reflects on unbundling, as discussed at the 2013 Western States Bar Conference.
Stephanie Kimbro reports on the two Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Technology Summits.
Recent Blog Posts Commenting on the ABA's Unbundling Resolution
In areas where technology can help clients to help themselves, the billable hour is outdated, as discussed in this recent post.
Stephanie Kimbro compiles a list of her top 15 predictions for the coming year that relate to virtual practice.
Guest blogger, Claudia Johnson offers thoughts on the future for technology and the law.
Stephanie Kimbro discusses a recent disciplinary case out of Virginia addressing the issue of a lawyer's use of misleading online advertising.
Professor Karl Okamoto of Drexel University College of Law has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant to develop a virtual law practice platform for use by law students learning practice skills.
Pam Weisz summarizes the highlights from the Pro Bno Net/LSNTAP Community Training Series presentation that took place on August 15th.
Richard Granat discusses some identified issues related to defining limits on Virtual Practice under Model Rule 5.5.
The ABA Center for Pro Bono Exchange discusses a few basic principles to avoid potential pitfalls to limited scope representation and to ensure the best experience for clients and volunteer attorneys.
David J. Bilinsky discusses how the Internet is changing the profession, allowing for greater diversity in how lawyers and clients meet, converse, interact, exchange, and collaborate
Campbell Law Observer: The Virtual Legal Market
A post on the Campbell Law Observer discusses unbundling and virtual representation as solutions to the growing population that lacks access to full legal representation.
A post on Lawyerist addresses unbundling as a way for solo attorneys to maintain a steady cash flow while offering cost-effective services for clients.
Richard Granat discusses a recently filed law suit against LegalZoom in the U.S. District Court, for breach of the Panel Agreement that it entered into. The Complaint can be downloaded here.
Stephanie Kimbro discusses her paper, recently published in the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology, addressing how lawyers can use innovations and technology to work with clients across the country and internationally.
Edward Poll discusses how the internet has revolutionized the way that lawyers and clients interact.
As we move away from paper and go digital, Stephanie Kimbro weighs in on debates about how the introduction of new technologies will restructure law firms
Richard Zorza discusses mediation, self-representation and professional standards.
M. Lewis Kinard discusses which services are most appropriate for limited scope representation and where to find more information.