The Joseph G. Miller and William C. Becker Center for Professional Responsibility Access to Justice Lecture Series
Dr. Paul D. Paton, Dean of Law and Wilbur Fee Bowker Professor of Law
University of Alberta Faculty of Law
Never Mind the Death of "BigLaw": Access to Justice, Alternative Business Structures and the Future of the Small Law Firm
How will legal services be delivered in the future? And who will deliver them? While the American Bar Association’s Ethics 20/20 Commission in 2012 rejected any change in the ethics rules that would permit Alternative Business Structures (ABS) for the delivery of legal services, non-lawyer ownership of firms, and fee sharing by non-lawyers, ABS are now a reality in England and Australia. A Canadian Bar Association August 2014 report recommended ABS north of the border as a way to improve consumer access and permit innovation. In all three countries, small firms or sole practitioners are the backbone of legal service delivery, and are most threatened by a technological revolution driving more people to seek self-help options online. With the American Bar Association launching a Task Force on the Future of Legal Services in August 2014 while also announcing an association with RocketLawyer, an online legal form provider, a revolution is underway. What’s the future for the small firm, and for the profession? And what does this mean for ensuring access to justice for the public?
The Joseph G. Miller and William C. Becker Center for Professional Responsibility at Akron Law is dedicated to enhancing public trust and confidence in the legal profession and the judicial system by:
- Pursuing programs and academic endeavors to promote access to justice and to enhance ethical awareness and performance of attorneys, judges, law teachers and students;
- Advocating the enhancement of professionalism of those who practice, adjudicate, teach and study the law;
- Reaching out to other professions to identify and pursue areas of common professional interest; and
- Examining, reporting on and suggesting improvements in the disciplinary systems for lawyers and judges.