A new book published by the Canadian Bar Association. Available free online at www.cba.org/PersonalPlight
Personal plight legal practice includes all legal work for individual clients whose needs arise from disputes. This is the site of our worst access to justice problems. The goal of this project is to identify sustainable innovations that can make the services of personal plight law firms more accessible to all Canadians.
Accessibility is vitally important, but it is not the only thing that matters in personal plight legal practice. Thus, this book seeks out innovations that not only improve accessibility, but also preserve or enhance service quality as well as law firms’ profitability. These “sweet spot” opportunities emerged from interviews with 32 personal plight legal practitioners across the country, and from an extensive review of the literature.
The first chapter of this book describes personal plight legal needs, clients, and law firms, and introduces the “sweet spot” frame of reference. The next chapters focus on practical opportunities for personal plight legal practice related to Price Certainty (Chapter 2); Deferred Payment (Chapter 3); Diversifying Services (Chapter 4); Vertical Division of Labour (Chapter 5); and Horizontal Division of Labour (Chapters 6 and 7). The concluding chapter (Chapter 8) compares the prospects for large personal plight law firms, and small ones, to pursue these innovations. Throughout, the book offers practical recommendations for personal plight law firms, and also for regulators and professional groups interested in helping those firms create sustainable access to justice. These recommendations are collected in the Appendix.
In Andy Boon, ed., International Perspectives on the Regulation of Lawyers and Legal Services, (Oxford: Hart Publishing, forthcoming 2017). Draft Online: SSRN, http://ssrn.com/abstract=2833336.
Forthcoming invited submission for special 2017 issue of the Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice (peer-reviewed). Draft online, SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2832877.
Invited contribution to Trevor Farrow & Les Jacobs eds., The Cost and Value of Justice (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, forthcoming 2018).
Invited contribution to Lawyers in Society: 30 Years After, an international book project edited by Richard L. Abel, Ole Hammerslev, Ulrike Schultz, and Hilary Sommerlad. Publication projected for 2018.
When lawyers elect the leaders of their self-regulatory organizations, what sort of people do they vote for? How does electoral system design affect the ability of law societies and bar associations to understand and regulate a diverse legal profession? This article quantitatively assesses the demographic and professional diversity of leadership in the Law Society of Upper Canada. After many years of underrepresentation, in 2015 non-white members and women were elected in numbers proportionate to their shares of Ontario lawyers. Regression analysis suggests that being non-white was not a disadvantage in the 2015 election, and being female actually conferred an advantage in attracting lawyers’ votes. The diverse employment contexts of the province’s lawyers were also represented in the elected group. However early career lawyers were completely unrepresented. This is largely a consequence of electoral system design choices, and can be remedied through the implementation of career stage constituencies.
(2016) Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 31, Issue 3, p. 405. (Peer-Reviewed). Early Draft online: SSRN, http://ssrn.com/abstract=2623743.
This research was the subject of an article in the Law Times newspaper: http://www.lawtimesnews.com/201507274832/headline-news/prof-calls-for-reforms-to-boost-youth-presence-at-convocation.
Review of Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013) and Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind, The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts (New York: Oxford, 2015).
Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, Volume 37, p. 126-131.
Continue reading Our Nostradamus
Canadian Bar Review, Vol. 93.3, p. 639 (2016).
How much does it cost individual Canadians to seek civil justice? This article compiles empirical data about the monetary, temporal, and psychological costs confronting individual justice-seekers in this country. The article then suggests that analysis of private costs can improve access to justice in two ways. First, it can help public sector policy-makers to reduce these costs. Second, it can help lawyers and entrepreneurs to identify new, affordable ways to reduce the costs that are most onerous to individuals with different types of civil legal need.
This research was the subject of an article in the Canadian Bar Association National Magazine. Online: CBA National Magazine, http://www.nationalmagazine.ca/Articles/June-2015-web/An-arm-and-a-leg.aspx.
Available now Edward Elgar Press in hardcover and as an affordable e-book .
“A must read for everyone in North America who is making decisions on regulatory change to the legal services industry.” (Mitch Kowalski’s review in the Financial Post)
Through a comparative study of English-speaking jurisdictions, this book seeks to illuminate the policy choices involved in legal services regulation as well as the important consequences of those choices. Regulation can protect the interests of clients and the public, and reinforce the rule of law. On the other hand, legal services regulation can also undermine access to justice and suppress innovation, while failing to accomplish any of its lofty ambitions. The book seeks a path forward to increasing regulation’s benefits and reducing its burdens for clients and for the public. It proposes a client-centric approach to enhance access to justice and service quality, while revitalizing legal professionalism, self-regulation, and independence.
Journal of the Legal Profession, Vol. 39, p. 25 (2014)
Commentators have predicted that computerization and off-shoring will steadily undermine demand for lawyers in North America and Europe. This essay argues that this prediction is not equally valid for all types of legal practice. Personal plight practice — in which lawyers help individuals and small businesses involved in legal disputes — is largely sheltered from both computerization and off-shoring. The article calls for the profession and legal educators to open doors between tomorrow’s lawyers and personal plight legal practice. Doing so will not only address the economic insecurity confronting tomorrow’s lawyers, but also enhance access to justice.