Advocacy at New York Hearing for Non-Lawyer Access Innovations

This may be a straw in the wind.

Reuters, in their report of the second of this year’s New York State hearings on Access to Justice included the following:

But money alone will not solve the problem, according to testimony submitted by Gillian Hadfield, a professor of law and economics at the University of Southern California. [link added]

With approximately one million low-income households facing legal problems, according to a court system survey, it’s simply impossible for the state’s 150,000 licensed attorneys to provide enough pro bono hours to help all of those people, the testimony said.

Hadfield suggested the state “allow people and organizations other than lawyers and law firms to provide some forms of legal assistance,” much like the medical profession, where a host of non-doctor personnel handle many healthcare problems.

In the past the content of these hearings has been somewhat predictive of future directions in New York state, so perhaps this means that we should all be thinking about creative ways to move forward to lower barriers to access inherent in the legal monopoly, such as the UK example blogged about here.

As soon as the transcript of the hearing is available, I will post it, and make more comments on the specifics of this approach, which I personally believe is a critical part of the overall solution.  All kudos to New York and CJ Lippman for putting the issue generally on the agenda, and helping make sure that the conversation begins.


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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5 Responses to Advocacy at New York Hearing for Non-Lawyer Access Innovations

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  4. Concerned says:

    This leaves individuals who might otherwise like to assist those in need in an awkward and subjective position. Doesn’t this “unathorized practice of law committee” appear to be possibly acting as a subcommittee to grand jury indictment? is this even Constitutional?
    Though it seems that it is a good idea for there to be some monitoring of attorneys and their conduct, isn’t that what the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Disciplinary Counsel are for? What are the implications to the “online resources” to pro se litigants? Could these “online resources” be considered “unauthorized practice of law?” What attorney would be encouraged to foster vulnerable litigants for a nominal fee if they would later be charged with criminal conduct? What would happen to pro se litigants when they appear before a Court? Will they be facing criminal charges for exercising their Constitutional Rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States or of the State of Rhode island?Is this statutorily formed committee Constitutional at all? Wow…couldn’t htis have such a CHILLING BBRRRRR effect on those of us who want to feel free to either exercise our rights or to help others? What implications does this have on educators? Are we practicing the “unauthorized practice of law” when we teach or discuss Constitutional issues whether we are elementary education teachers or law professors? How does this all fit in?

    Click to access 11-202.pdf

  5. Concerned says:

    I think this is great. Not in the State of Rhode Island though. Some attorneys are shying away from helping pro se litigants and many refuse to do pro bono if it doesn’t fit their agenda. With the economy at this time,

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