On the blog site of the Montage Legal Group, Kandy Williams – an attorney in Orange County CA – evaluates the recently published report of the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services and wonders whether the legal profession in the U.S. is “on the cusp of Uber-like disruption.”
“Many of the Commission’s findings paint a bleak picture of the legal landscape,” Williams writes. Not only do the poor and many middle-income Americans have no access to legal services, but “lawyers would have to provide over 900 pro bono hours per year in order to make a measurable dent in assisting all households with legal needs.” The state of legal services in the U.S. is contributing to delays, disruptions, and backlogs in the courts.
Williams goes on to list some of the Commission’s recommendations, including greater diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, and an overhaul of the justice system. The report is particularly critical of the fact that lawyers in general lag far behind other professions when it comes to technology, and that the profession is so resistant to change. It is at this intersection that Williams wonders whether “like taxi drivers caught in the headlights of Uber,” BigLaw may find itself confronted by a new generation of legal innovators who bring entirely new approaches to the practice of law. One of these is the “accordion company” like the Montage Legal Group of freelance attorneys, “that provide[s] networks of trained, experienced lawyers to law firms to shore up firms’ staffing needs.”
Williams points out that there has been criticism of the Commission’s report, and that the ABA has not yet adopted it. Nonetheless, the report – like Williams’s article – raises issues that cannot be ignored.
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