In August 2014, the American Bar Association Board of Governors created the Commission on the Future of Legal Services. According to a February 2015 ABA article titled, Lots of ideas, but no single theme at Commission on the Future of Legal Services’ public hearing, the Commission held a public hearing during the ABA’s 2015 Midyear Meeting in Houston, Texas, in the hopes of eliciting ideas on how to improve access to justice for consumers with low to moderate income. A number of people spoke, including attorneys, judges, academics, and representatives of private legal service providers (including Legal Zoom). Unfortunately, the hearing failed to identify an easy fix to the problem.
The Commission’s chair, Judy Perry Martinez, commented on the problem after the hearing:
‘I think there’s an acknowledgement that change has to happen, . . . Lawyers realize we’re not meeting the needs of the public, and there needs to be a combination of solutions. But what’s the priority, lawyers or the public? I think those interests align. The interest of the client, the interest of the public, has got to be the guiding light.’
According to the ABA article, the Commission will hold a National Summit on Innovation in Legal Services on May 2-4, 2015 at Stanford University.
While the February hearing did not identify any silver bullet, we at LPR are encouraged that the American Bar Association admits there is a problem and are taking steps to resolve it. Hopefully, judges, lawyers and bar associations across the country will join in and work together to effect legal reform.