jayne reardon

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At the request of Dan Linna, Director of Law and Technology Initiatives at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Dan Rodriguez (also of Northwestern) and I facilitated the October meetup of Northwestern’s Chicago Law and Technology Initiative. The group brings together Chicagoans to explore legal innovation, how technology can improve legal services/access to justice and legal startups. We designed the meetup as a discussion on regulatory reform with perspectives from tech entrepreneurs, law firm legal ops personnel and participants who may not be licensed practicing lawyers. Specifically, we wanted to engage their viewpoints on whether some of the Rules of…
Yesterday, the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) and the Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF) launched a joint task force to respond to the market failure in consumer legal services. In addition to addressing the gap in access to legal services, the CBA/CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law and Innovation will address how lawyers are hampered and suffering under the current regime. As CBF Executive Director Bob Glaves said at the kick off, “this new task force is dedicated to looking at how can we modernize the regulations governing the practice of law so that lawyers can practice in a…
The Utah Supreme Court has quickly moved ahead on regulatory reform. On Wednesday, August 28, the Court unanimously approved a work group report that lays out recommendations for narrowing the access to justice gap by reimagining lawyer regulation. The report, which was received by the Court less than a week before approval, is focused on “optimizing regulation in a manner that fosters innovation and promotes other market forces so as to increase access to and affordability of legal services.” Other states, including Arizona, California and Illinois, are evaluating similar legal regulation proposals. Utah, however, was the first to act. Increasing…
Change doesn’t come rapidly in law. That’s a good thing. The rule of law is predicated on predictability and consistency with precedent. However, if the rapid pace of changes in technology and globalization leave law behind and out of the equation, that’s a problem. Here’s where the idea of regulatory sandboxes may help. What’s a regulatory sandbox? “Regulatory sandbox” refers to a way for companies and regulators to experiment with new types of services and technologies to best determine how to regulate them. According to a paper written by Jorge Gabriel Jiménez, a fellow in Stanford Law School’s Legal Design…
Do lawyer ethics rules prohibit innovation in the delivery of legal services and contribute to the access to justice gap? Yes, according to a task force on lawyer regulation formed last summer by the California State Bar’s Board of Trustees. The task force has recommended changing some key lawyer ethics rules. California isn’t alone in exploring this issue. Arizona and Utah have also convened task forces. Illinois has been studying similar issues for some time. In addition, there are national organizations attuned to lawyer regulation issues. Whether new ethical rules are adopted by one or more states, indicators point to …
There’s been a disturbing justice gap in the U.S. for decades. The legal profession has responded by encouraging pro bono legal services to low-income Americans, allowing the “unbundling” of legal services into smaller pieces, utilizing technology to reach more people and exploring efficiencies in the delivery of legal services. Most of these approaches assume people aren’t using lawyers for their civil legal needs because they’re too expensive. But cost is not the only reason for the justice gap. As we try innovating our way out of this situation, perhaps we should adopt a design or jobs theory mindset. This would…
One thing that defines the legal profession is that it’s “self-governing.” Lawyers have ethical regulations that bind them together in service to others. But do lawyer ethics rules effectively serve the profession? Do these regulations serve the public? Not as well as they should. Rationale for Self-Regulation What’s this notion of “self-regulation?” Lawyers aren’t licensed or regulated by a department within the executive branch of the government but by state supreme courts. This isn’t set forth in the rules themselves but has evolved by case law and is referenced in the Preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. According…
Legal innovation is all the rage in our profession. In fact, innovation has been a hot topic in many industries for a while now. Law’s stock in trade has been analyzing and applying specialized legal knowledge to solving clients’ problems. But since technology has made information widely available, lawyers no longer have a monopoly. The general public is searching the internet for legal information and services. Companies are selling legal information and services on the internet. And corporate clients are demanding greater value from their lawyers. What does this mean? Lawyers need to change the way they practice, and legal…
Lawyers have a duty to represent their clients. At the same, they have a responsibility to the legal system and the quality of justice administered. These three sets of obligations are laid out in the Preamble to the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Preamble urges lawyers to promote civility and to further the public’s confidence in the rule of law and the justice system. So what does it mean to promote civility and the rule of law? How can lawyers further the public’s understanding of the justice system? Civility: Ground Zero in our Democracy As I recently wrote, our…
More than politeness, civility in government is the glue that holds our republic together. Discussion about civility tends to focus on good manners, or how people speak and behave. But that’s only part of being civil. That people speak and what is substantively communicated are also key components. Respectful sharing of differing viewpoints and compromise around policy makes for civility in government. And America is saying we need more of it. Civility in government = less political polarization Our system of government is based on the airing of differing opinions and compromise. Unfortunately, when our elected representatives act uncivil, they’re…
Why aren’t law firms held accountable for violations of ethics rules that harm consumers?  We often see reports that confidential client information may have been compromised by cyberattacks or security breaches involving inadequately protected data. Who’s responsible? In most U.S. jurisdictions, only individual lawyers are disciplined for ethical violations that harm consumers. However, roughly half of lawyers practice in a law firm setting. And associates in medium-to-large firms have no influence over firm systems, such as conflicts checks, calendaring or trust accounting. If attorney regulation is aimed at protecting consumers, perhaps law firms—as well as individual lawyers—should be regulated. This…
No matter your practice area, there are legal conferences throughout the year that can help you stay up to date on developments impacting your career. In 2018, we highlighted conferences for young lawyers. This year we’re highlighting future law conferences. What is a future law conference? It wasn’t long ago that “future law” referred to any conference or continuing legal education (CLE) program that mentioned technology. After all, law school traditionally didn’t provide technology training and CLE addressed only substantive law. For many decades, lawyers focused their CLE on staying current on case law, statutes, or regulations that impacted their…
We’ve tried the moral case for diversity—it’s the right thing to do. And the business case for diversity—it’s good for business. Yet the legal profession remains stubbornly non-diverse. Maybe it’s time for a new approach—the ethical case for diversity. If the purpose of lawyer ethical rules is to prescribe behavior that promotes the public good, including equality under the law, why not rules mandating diversity in the profession? The argument was recently made by David Douglass, a partner at Sheppard Mullin in Washington, D.C., in his ground-breaking presentation, An Ethical and Scientific Case for Promoting Diversity and Equality in…