CBA Record July-August 2020

Chicago Bar Foundation Report

Charting a Path to a Better Future: The CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law and Innovation By Bob Glaves, CBF Executive Director, and Jessica Bednarz, CBF Director of Innovation &

the Justice Entrepreneurs Project T he CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sus- tainable Practice of Law is finalizing the draft of a comprehensive report to modernize the Rules of Professional Conduct to make the legal market work better for everyone. The draft report is the product of nine months of hard work and will be pub- lished for public comment in July and early August (see sidebar for details). Dozens of members from diverse back- grounds across the legal community in Illinois and beyond—lawyers and other legal professionals—developed recommendations to reform the way we regulate the business of law. We believe these changes will make for a better andmore sustainable legal profession, a better andmore accessible justice system, and improved access to legal help for consumers and small businesses. Background The genesis for the Task Force is the recogni- tion that the legal market for everyday people is not working for anyone. Most people do not even recognize when they have a legal problem, and when they do, they do not know how or where to find affordable legal help. Lawyers trying to serve the consumer market increasingly are struggling. Andmore people than ever before are coming to court without lawyers. Amarket failure of this magnitude would normally be met with a wave of innovation and new services. However, our antiquated

Rules of Professional Conduct governing the business of law are artificially restraining market forces from fixing the problem in the market for legal services, to everyone’s detriment. This failure in the legal market has been long in the making, and the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. Not only are there huge implications for our courts and access to justice, but the negative impact on solo and small firm lawyers throughout the state is very real as well. A healthy legal profession and improved access to justice for the public are not opposing concepts; they are inextri- cably related. Among the key goals for the Task Force were to: • Create better opportunities for lawyers to practice law in a sustainable, financially viable manner and better serve clients; • Reimagine the Rules of Professional Con- duct to permit business models that will expand opportunities for Illinois lawyers to attract new clients and improve their bottom line; and • Prioritize the use of legal technology to improve the ability of our courts and lawyers to provide legal services to a greater number of legal consumers and to make legal services more affordable and acces- sible. The Task Force’s proposed solutions are framed around the Supreme Court’s Regu- latory Objectives and Strategic Agenda, and

the Task Force’s Guiding Principles and Objectives (available on the Task Force web page). Recent resolutions from the Confer- ence of Chief Justices and the ABA as well as the ongoing work of other states offer further support for the urgency of this work. Finally, we have built off the experience of other professionals who recognize a wider range of business models and have markets that function better for both the professionals and the public. The Task Force carried out its work through five committees: • Modernizing Lawyer Referral&LawFirm Models • Regulating Technology-Based Products and Services • Optimizing theUse ofOther Legal Profes- sionals • Expanding the Limited Scope Representa- tion Rules • Plain Language Ethics Rules Full reports from each committee are included within the overallTask Force report. Their collective recommendations are briefly summarized below, organized by the three major issue areas they address. Task Force Recommendations The overarching issue the Task Force has worked to address is the growing disconnect between the legal needs of the public and lawyers who could serve them. Our Task Force proposals directly address this discon-

18 July/August 2020

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