Conference Of Chief Justices Urges Reform Of Legal Services

Members of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) gathered recently for their midyear meeting where the debate over a variety of proposed innovations in the regulation of the delivery of legal services was a hot topic. State supreme courts, after all, don’t just act as arbiters of legal disputes, but also hold ultimate authority for the regulation of the practice of law in their states.

The assembled members heard from the President of the American Bar Association (ABA), Judy Perry Martinez, who did not mince words about how critical innovation is in the effort to close the nation’s access to justice gap. She also emphasized the vital role of both the ABA and state judicial leaders in fostering open discussion about potential reforms.

“We need and are beginning to see bold new ideas to address our nation’s unmet legal needs,” said Martinez. “Given the dire circumstances that the public faces when trying to protect their basic rights, doing nothing—having no dialogues and conversations among stakeholders; fearing to ask “what if” or “why not”—may pose an even greater risk.”

At its business meeting, CCJ adopted a policy resolution Urging Consideration of Regulatory Innovations Regarding the Delivery of Legal Services, which was proposed by its committee on Professionalism and Competence of the Bar. The resolution “urges its members to consider regulatory innovations that have the potential to improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of civil legal services, while ensuring necessary and appropriate protections for the public.”

As ABA President Martinez noted: “The ultimate purpose of regulation is not to protect the livelihood of lawyers but to advance the administration of justice.”

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