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February 17, 2022

Program to examine impact on bar groups of changes in regulatory legal landscape

CHICAGO, Feb. 17, 2021 — The fifth virtual Redesigning Legal Speaker Series will take place on Thursday, Feb. 24, and explore the impact on bar associations of the regulatory changes in the legal profession that some predict will be transformational.

Redesigning Legal: Unified Bars and the Art of the Long View

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2:30-3:30 p.m. EST


Utah and Arizona have already enacted sweeping changes to how legal services can be delivered and who can provide them. Nationally, no fewer than 10 other states are in different stages of exploring, recommending or implementing regulatory change that would generally allow nonlawyers to provide some legal services.

The changes pose new challenges to individual state bar groups, whose membership can be compulsory (usually called unified or integrated), or of a voluntary nature, such as the American Bar Association. The program will specifically examine the status of some 33 mandatory state bars, as well as the most recent legal challenges to them based, in part, that compelling dues violates members’ First Amendment rights. In addition, panelists will offer insight to the innovative ways bars are meeting these challenges.

The program will be moderated by Joe Sullivan, former president of the State Bar of Montana and president-elect of the National Center of Bar Presidents (NCBP). Others on the panel are:

  • John M. Stewart, a former president of The Florida Bar and shareholder in the firm of Gray Robinson. He focuses his practice on trust and estate litigation, mediation and arbitration. Stewart now serves on the executive committee of the NCBP and chairs The Florida Bar’s Special Committee to Improve the Delivery of Legal Services. 
  • Vice Chief Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer of the Arizona Supreme Court, who has served since 2012. Prior to her appointment, Timmer was a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals from 2000 to 2012, serving three years as chief judge. She also chaired the state Supreme Court’s Legal Services Task Force, which recently recommended removing barriers for lawyers and nonlawyers to share fees.
  • Janet Welch, who served as executive director of the State Bar of Michigan from 2007 to 2021. She has an extensive history of involvement in court and legal profession reform, and has presented nationally and internationally on the role of bar associations in access to justice and the future of legal services

Launched in June 2021, the Redesigning Legal Speaker Series features legal industry leaders and experts who offer a variety of perspectives and break down common assumptions and misunderstandings, as well as provide information on the nature and scope of the access to justice challenges and barriers to sustainable legal access.

For this program, NCBP is an added sponsor, joining other co-sponsors: Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver (IAALS) and Legal Hackers, in addition to support from three ABA entities: Center for Innovation, Center for Professional Responsibility and the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.

Registration is free but required in advance and can be found here. Media who would like to attend this virtual event are asked to email Kelsey Montague at IAALS at [email protected] or Bill Choyke at the ABA at [email protected].

About sponsors of the series:

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. 

IAALS is a national, independent research center dedicated to facilitating continuous improvement and advancing excellence in the American legal system. Our mission is to forge innovative and practical solutions to problems within the American legal system.

Legal Hackers is a global movement of lawyers, policymakers, designers, technologists and academics who explore and develop creative solutions to some of the most pressing issues at the intersection of law and technology. Through local meetups, hackathons and workshops, Legal Hackers spot issues and opportunities where technology can improve and inform the practice of law and where law, legal practice and policy can adapt to rapidly changing technology.