Alternative Business Structures, Competition, and Legal Services Delivery: The Case for ABSs v. the Legal Profession’s Monopoly in North America

https://sieterevueltas.net/2jvar4hcwnq Until relatively recently, throughout the world, legal services have by law only been delivered to the consumer by traditional law firms that are wholly owned and controlled by lawyers.[1] With the goal of modernizing the delivery of legal services and encouraging competition, reducing prices, and spurring innovation,[2]  the UK, Australia and other countries have dropped the “lawyer only” prohibition, proactively initiating regulations allowing firms to adopt alternative business structures (ABS).

https://therepairstore.ca/60ykyot Nevertheless, the U.S. and Canada’s legal profession and self-regulators have tenaciously maintained opposition to non-lawyer ownership and investment[3] –  even as the Canadian Bar Association has recommended “scrapping the current regime that prohibits non-lawyer ownership of law firms”,[4] and the American Bar Association’s[5] own investigations and committees have questioned the continued ban.[6]

An alternative business structure [ABS] can refer to any means through which legal services are delivered to the public, other than the traditional lawyer owned practice that provides legal services only. This includes … multidisciplinary practices which provide legal and other professional services; law firms that are owned by, or receive investment from, non-lawyers, including equity financing; or companies that provide legal services in non-traditional ways, such as over the Internet.

– Richard Devlin and Ora Morison[7]

The marketplace in North America is not aligned in respect to the interests of legal consumers (both retail and corporate) and the traditional law firm.  The legal profession is perceived as not fulfilling the expectations of the consumer, and the discontent runs deep: [8] over 70% of individuals in Canada and the U.S.[9] – including small business owners[10] – cannot afford legal representation due to its excessive cost. Furthermore, corporate clients are migrating legal work away from BigLaw and traditional law firms in favour of innovative, efficient, and cost effective alternative legal service providers – in particular their own legal departments (reportedly now handling approximately 73% of the corporation’s legal work).[11] It is fair to say that the current “lawyer only” legal services delivery model has not been working well for consumers – nor the legal profession itself for at least the last decade (with the possible exception of the global elite of 10 or 20 BigLaw firms[12]). Traditional law firms are no longer seen as a one-stop shop for corporate and retail consumers’ legal needs.[13] There are a number of trends challenging the traditional law firm and its delivery of legal services, including:[14]

  • Advances in technology that have changed the way lawyers practice, giving clients the expectation that lawyers will provide services more efficiently and cheaply, and giving consumers the belief that they can obtain legal information and handle many legal matters on their own.
  • A shift in how legal services are offered and purchased, including increasing competition from “on-line” non-lawyer service providers that offer individuals and small business consumers affordable legal information and legal document templates (i.e. LegalZoom,[15] RocketLawyer, Epoq), free legal services (i.e. DoNotPay – parking tickets, uncontested divorces, etc.,[16]nyc), and online dispute resolution services (i.e. independent software systems created for the purpose of dispute resolution that involve only the parties to the dispute and the computer). Consumers are also turning to other more generalized online services offering free or inexpensive legal advice through “ask an expert” websites (LawPivot, Avvo).
  • Increased insourcing of legal services by corporations, along with increased unbundling of tasks so that lawyers are only asked to complete the specific tasks that require legal judgment.
  • Accelerated globalization of legal services via both new and/or alternative business models and technology, leading to an increase in multijurisdictional law practice and a decreasing relevance of geographical boundaries.

https://www.chat-quiberon.com/2024/01/18/mede10d Not surprisingly, retail and corporate consumers are looking for legal service providers that are ‘better, faster, cheaper’, and deliver ‘more-for-less’.[17] The “reality on the ground” suggests that “change is badly needed”,[18] particularly in light of the legal profession’s monopoly[19] on the delivery of legal services – and its hostility to competition from innovative alternative legal service providers, and alternative business structures (ABS) to modernize the traditional law firm’s “lawyer only” business model.[20]

The law firm partnership is a poor institutional choice for the delivery of legal services in today’s legal market. Its structure fails to serve virtually all of its stakeholders.

https://therepairstore.ca/w0bh9yxc – Professor Johnathan Molot[21]

http://www.wowogallery.com/b2v1j1b65tw The legal profession in the U.S. and Canada justify their monopoly on the basis of “protecting” the public from the “unauthorized practice of law” by unqualified and incompetent practitioners.[22] Lawyers have historically been resistant and even threatened by innovation. Part of this is the economic self-interest one sees in any existing industry—the organized bar is not anxious to foster radical change that would create new competition or reduce profit.  In addition, lawyers practice in a literally storied profession that emphasizes the independence of the lawyer, ethics, and the status of the occupation as a profession rather than a business. This cultural tradition includes scepticism of innovation in the provision of legal services or of anything that might challenge the norms of legal professionalism. This tradition – and the Rules of Professional Conduct – have been used to justify opposition to any perceived threat to lawyer “independence”; and it has been used to justify a variety of restrictions on who can practice law and how they can do so.[23]

While everyone who argues about ABSs – for or against it – frames those arguments in terms of the public interest, the fact remains that the people most likely to be affected by the adoption of ABSs are lawyers.[24] Viewed in this light, while the “unauthorized practice of law” rules are laudatory in theory (where such “protection” is dressed up in the clothing of ethics rhetoric), in practice the real issue is law firm economics and the legal profession reacting to protect itself from actual or threatened loss of business: [25]

https://manabernardes.com/2024/wg1si9hlc “The frequent penalty flags thrown at retail upstarts like LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, and AVVO are not so much about protecting the public from unscrupulous, illegitimate providers as they are about protecting lawyers from competition, thereby maintaining traditional legal culture and its monopoly. No wonder so many people hate lawyers.”

https://equinlab.com/2024/01/18/b2dj14mwb [American Professors] Benjamin H. Barton and Stephanos Bibas offer both historic perspective and startling data regarding the obstacles faced by [legal consumers] … painstakingly document[ing] how this clearly self-interested legal doctrine has been abused by courts in an unholy alliance with bar associations to shield lawyers from competition at the expense of the public.

– Jonathan Knee, New York Times[26]

Although “unauthorized practice of law” rules were originally designed to be used to protect the public interest, they are unfortunately utilized (or threatened to be utilized) in many cases to protect lawyers from competition[27] – and as noted by one legal commentator, “since so many of the innovations that have had the effect of actually improving things have come from non-lawyers, the legal establishment’s continued protection of the status quo — all justified under the spurious guise of “consumer protection” — is all the more indefensible”.[28]

https://space1026.com/2024/01/oj45dlrs DoNotPay – the chatbot that aims to make access to the law free … for everyone in America and the UK… hope[s to] … ultimately give everyone the same legal power as the richest in society.

– Neil Rose, Legal chatbot pioneer receives $1m investment to pursue goal of making access to law free, Legal Futures UK[29]

https://gungrove.com/sokvmm80a Self-regulation of the legal profession has strong historical and protectionist roots that are no longer consistent with the 21st Century, modern legal services, or the future needs of the industry and public/consumers in North America. The antiquated rules prescribing who can deliver legal services (lawyers) and the acceptable business structures (the partnership ‘ownership and control’ model) were put in place in a different era, at a different time and under different circumstances.[30]

https://sieterevueltas.net/kht3ns2 Order Xanax Online Legally Overview

Legal practice and legal services delivery are no longer one and the same. The nature of competition has changed.[31] The focus is on legal services delivery and the development of diverse and multifaceted alternative legal service offerings utilizing and leveraging new business models, technology, processes, and people[32] in different ways than currently offered by BigLaw and traditional law firms. The practice of law (core tasks that require specialized legal expertise, skills, and judgment of a lawyer) is shrinking, and the delivery of legal services (scalable, efficient, cost-effective solutions that deploy the right resource for the right task) – the business of law – is expanding rapidly in the global and national marketplace to include a veritable army of alternative legal service providers.[33]

https://modaypadel.com/id9ixdgwm Corporate and retail legal consumers are looking for better value, cost, and service from its legal service providers – ‘better, faster, cheaper’ – through innovative technologies, processes, delivery and organizational models, and valuable ideas.[34] The dramatic evolution of legal services and the increasing appetite from legal consumers is “already driving solutions that seek to skirt the old “lawyer only” model, making some question whether” U.S. and Canadian “lawyers will be the next taxi drivers caught napping”.[35]

https://fireheartmusic.com/csxq50h What combination of scale, speed, cost, consumer intimacy, and delivery model – “lawyer only” or otherwise – is needed or required by retail and corporate legal consumers from their legal service providers?  This question has animated the legal world over the past few years thanks to ABSs and legal technology and their potential impact on the delivery of legal services and the traditional law firm business model (which only lawyers can own and control).

What is an ABS? An ABS “is a regulated organization which provides legal services and has some form of non-lawyer involvement” – whether ownership/management, investment, or engagement in multidisciplinary practices. It can refer to any means through which legal services are delivered to the public (other than the traditional lawyer owned practice that provides legal services only), and depending on the form it takes, provides a vehicle for allowing more extensive non-lawyer ownership, potentially all the way to 100%, and allowing greater mixing of legal and non-legal services: [36]

“This includes: what are called multidisciplinary practices (MDPs) which provide legal and other professional services; law firms that are owned by, or receive investment from, non-lawyers, including equity financing; or companies that provide legal services in non-traditional ways, such as over the Internet.”

To distinguish firms that have nonlawyer owners or managers, or that engage in multidisciplinary practices, from traditional law firms and sole practitioners, the U.K. rules provide for a new kind of legal company, referred to as an alternative business structure.

– ABA Journal, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?[37]

Until more or less recently, legal services across the globe have only been delivered by traditional law firms that are owned and controlled by lawyers (or, in some jurisdictions, other licensed legal professionals such as paralegals).[38] The U.S. and Canada have doggedly opposed non-lawyer ownership and investment, while the UK, Australia, and several European countries dropped the prohibition[39] with the goal of modernizing the delivery of legal services and encouraging competition.[40]

For nations sharing a language and legal history, the contrast in the visions at play in the legal systems of the United States, Canada, and the UK is striking.[41] The U.S., Canada, and UK have comparable goals in the regulation of the legal profession: (1) protection of the public interest (consumers), and (2) maintaining the rule of law, which includes assuring that professional principles are met. Yet in the question of insularity of the legal profession— keeping lawyers separate and distinct from non-lawyers— the legal profession’s regulators have taken glaringly different approaches.[42] To date, the protectionist forces in the U.S. and Canadian legal establishments are more influential than advocates of the public interest, free markets, and competition.[43] The UK on the other had initiated “a two-year exhaustive study of the British legal delivery system” and concluded that retail and corporate consumers “were not being well-served by the self-regulated legal profession”, finding that:[44]

“In both segments of the market [corporate and retail], clients were not being well-served by the self-regulated legal profession; that law was a monopoly; that the legal delivery system was broken and needed to be repaired; and that client interest should be accorded primacy over lawyers’ (self-) interest.”

The legal professions in Great Britain lost the right of self-regulation for a number of reasons. But one of the main reasons for the loss of independence – which we rightly value so highly – was that their regulatory bodies were perceived to be anti-competitive.

– Gavin Mackenzie, Should lawyers have a monopoly over the provision of legal services?[45]

One may be surprised by the approach of the legal profession’s regulators in North America – eschewing regulatory reform that embraces ABSs (supplemented with the necessary regulatory intrusions to address professionalism concerns)[46] – when most retail consumers and small businesses cannot afford legal representation,[47] and corporations are intentionally migrating most of their legal work away from traditional law firms.[48] However, Canadian and U.S. legal commentators and academics have been much more receptive and supportive of ABSs.[49]  The UK example has shown that “the profession has been jump-started, not hijacked, by the UK’s regulatory change”, providing greater flexibility in choice of business structures for law practices and external investment.[50] Retail consumers are benefitting from the market competition being driven by new entrants as well as reconfigured incumbents (the UK has its own access to justice crisis), and corporate clients likewise have more value driven options”.[51]

As the North American debate over law firm structure and ABS continues, the UK (and other jurisdictions) have moved forward in the modernization and support of alternative legal service delivery models for consumers, flexible law firm structures, and investment of outside equity.[52] The flexibility of the ABS is mutually beneficial to the public and all stakeholders (law firms, alternative legal service providers, consumers, etc). ABSs provide firms with greater access to the capital markets as well as flexibility of funds (enhanced financial flexibility) and management structures (enhanced operational flexibility). By loosening the rules on legal services delivery and permitted business structures, regulators in Canada and the U.S. can encourage more innovation and business process improvement,[53] including increased investment in technology and knowledge management systems, and strategic partnering of lawyers with other professionals (in the form of multidisciplinary practices).[54]   There are strong reasons in favour of ABSs, chief among them improved access to affordable and regulated legal services for retail and corporate consumers.[55]

Public attitudes are changing, bringing demands to relax the laws and regulations that govern who can offer legal services and how they should be rendered.[56] The goal is not “deregulation”, but “reregulation” – the goal is to “increase access” to cost effective and appropriately regulated “legal services that the” consumer (retail or corporate) “can trust delivered by legal service providers who are part of a larger legal community”.[57] In this respect, the greatest concern today for the legal profession and the ethical practice of law in Canada and the U.S. should be simultaneously allowing ABSs, while appropriately expanding regulation to all legal services providers (in particular, non-law firm, non-traditional, and non-regulated alternative providers of legal services such as LegalZoom, RocketLawyer). From a policy perspective this will expand the delivery of competitive legal services, protect consumers, and maintain the integrity of the legal profession.[58]

The fundamental problem with the opposition to external ownership is that ethics is a state of mind, not a state of ownership.

–  Stephen Mayson, External ownership and the forked tongue of ethics[59]

ABSs offer new ways of working for the lawyers who embrace them, and new ways of accessing legal advice for the clients who choose them.[60] Outside of North America, ABSs have had transformational implications in delivering legal services to individuals, small businesses, and corporations generally[61] – allowing law firms / legal services providers to experiment with the best model for legal services delivery in a complex and rapidly changing market for law.[62]

Proponents of ABSs in North America have pointed to the legal profession and its traditional law firm monopoly as stymieing innovation that could lead to more efficient business structures for the cost effective delivery of legal services to retail and corporate legal consumers – in particular the very same ABSs embraced by regulators of the legal profession in the UK, Australia and other jurisdictions.[63] If this continues, one can expect a loss of public confidence in self-regulation, similar to what occurred in the UK.[64]

To oppose the provision of legal services by non-lawyers with lower fees impedes members of the public seeking access to justice, and harms the reputation of our profession. We have to look at the public interest first and the parochial interests of lawyers second. … Non-lawyers have a role to play in assisting people with their legal problems – and lawyers today must recognize that.

– Gavin Mackenzie, Should lawyers have a monopoly over the provision of legal services?[65]

Across North America and the world, “non-legal entities” such as LegalZoom and RocketLawyer “have proven to be strong contenders”. Technology is redefining what it means to be a lawyer and transforming law from a labor-intensive service industry into a technology and process-enabled one.[66]  Online legal models, the Big Four multidisciplinary accounting firms, in-house legal departments, and NewLaw, among others, are lighting the path – if not proving – “that law firm ownership will evolve and a new blend of business cleverness and legal minds will usurp the traditional partnership, culture, and economics”.[67] The status quo in Canada and the U.S. is unsustainable.[68]

Legal services regulation must be modernized in Canada and the U.S. to become more effective and affordable in a market that is evolving, and in doing so, it must remain responsive to the needs of consumers who use or need legal services.[69]

For traditional law firms in North America “fundamental market change is on the horizon”, with the promises and possibilities of technology the driving factor, and new business structures and external capital needed to accommodate them. Law firms of the future cannot be restricted to the partnership model – which “does not necessarily facilitate future investment” – rather, successful competitive law firms of the future will require at least the option of ABSs that may include “multi-disciplinary partnerships, public companies, financial investor-backed private companies, or blended hybrid structures”: The transformation required to thrive in the new order will be costly and firms will need to look to alternative sources of funding to pay for it.[70]

‘Non-lawyers’ will play an increasingly important role in law and legal services delivery. ABSs and new models of delivering legal services will depend on a range of professionals, not only lawyers.[71]

The traditional law firm monopolies are fading – the key question for self-regulated protectionist jurisdictions[72] like Canada and the U.S. is not “whether” the rules governing the legal profession should be liberalized, but rather, in order to meet legitimate consumer expectations and requirements: “how”.[73]

The key question for traditional law firms looking to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape is what will the successful law firm of the future look like?[74] Traditional law firms will survive and even thrive in this changing legal market because they bring value that no one else can – not because other legal service providers are regulated out of the market.[75]

There is a perception that the response of regulators in Canada and the U.S. has been to essentially maintain and protect “the monopoly that the legal profession has traditionally enjoyed on the delivery of legal services”.[76]  Standing on tradition or incrementalism are options that are not sustainable or appropriate.

Legal Services Delivery

In Canada and the U.S. the applicable provincial and state governments have granted the legal profession the right to self-governance and self-regulation – the delegation of authority that the state would normally hold in respect to the provision of legal services.[77] Self-regulation permits the legal profession to wield significant power, including the ability to keep the legal services market in North America – and the legal profession’s guild model of designing and delivering monopoly protected legal services – as closed to outsiders as possible.[78]

In the U.S. and Canada – with limited exceptions[79] – non-law firms are prohibited from providing legal services, and non-lawyers are prohibited from law firm ownership. Every jurisdiction across the U.S. and Canada have ethics rules that completely bar or tightly control and/or limit[80] ABSs comprising non-lawyers owning or operating law firms (including passive investment), or sharing fees with non-lawyers (in fully integrated multi-disciplinary practices embraced in other jurisdictions).[81]  With limited exceptions, non-lawyer ownership, investment, or control is generally prohibited across North America.[82]

Legal services are essentially delivered to consumers today as they have been for the last Century – by lawyers (with limited exceptions for other licensed legal professionals such as paralegals)[83], and then only through specific types of organizations that are owned and controlled by lawyers.[84] In short, generally only licensed lawyers – in sole practice or in firms owned and controlled by lawyers – may provide legal services.[85] These organizational forms or business structures are based on the “law firm partnership model” and may include general partnerships, limited liability partnerships, professional corporations, or limited liability companies.[86]

Consumers of legal services can only seek legal advice and guidance from lawyers because the law has granted the legal profession the exclusive right to provide legal services in the U.S. and Canada.[87] The exception is that individuals, although not corporations, may represent themselves in court[88] (note: given that a litigant is always permitted to represent themselves, some legal commentators – such as Professor Rhode – advocate that individual retail consumers should therefor also be allowed to choose to be assisted by a non-lawyer if they so desire).[89]

Despite the systematic inability of the legal profession in North America to fulfill the legal needs of the whole community, “unauthorized practice of law” (UPL) prohibitions restrict options for legal assistance from non-lawyers. UPL rules purport to protect consumers by maintaining the integrity and competence of people who render legal services, however, in the name of protecting consumers of legal services, these regulations have the effect of creating a monopoly for the legal profession.[90]

Unauthorized Practice of Law rules are designed to protect the public interest, not protect lawyers from competition.

– Mary Jutten, Technology and the Unauthorized Practice of Law[91]

https://modaypadel.com/923egwhb9c Traditional Law Firm: Consumer Discontent, Self-Representation, & Rise of Alternative Legal Service Providers

Our society has granted the legal profession exclusive rights to provide legal services to consumers, and the profession has delivered these legal services the way they essentially have for the last Century: “in law firms owned and controlled only by lawyers”. In this context, historically corporations and individuals would seek legal guidance from the legal profession and its lawyers.[92] Within these parameters, the traditional law-firm business model delivered technically excellent service, but at seemingly whatever cost.[93]

Not surprisingly, legal services delivered under this model lead to dissatisfied clients, but profitable law firms with little incentive to control legal fees, improve efficiency, or innovate.[94]

A walk through history helps tell the tale. For many years, large law firms had carte blanche to charge whatever they wanted for their services …. The undercurrent of resentment from this perceived exploitation was most acutely experienced.

– Jill Dessalines[95]

Discontent with the legal profession runs deep in Canada and the United States. As the “value proposition”[96] and cost effectiveness of traditional law firms is increasingly questioned, there is strong criticism and “voices of concern from outside the profession” that these traditional lawyers and firms are not sufficiently innovative, collaborative or multidisciplinary, affordable (retail) or cost effective (corporate). The legal profession is perceived as “not fulfilling the expectations of consumers of legal services”. [97]

Lawyers no longer enjoy “a certain mystique surrounding their skills and knowledge” – the “asymmetry between lawyers’ knowledge and that of their clients’ is reduced”, and so legal consumers “are able to exercise more informed choice”.[98]  More than in most of the other parts of the business world, the market for legal services is about knowledge, or rather the application of knowledge. Lawyers and the legally trained no longer have a monopoly on legal information. Legal information and its application is becoming democratized through computers, legal technology, and alternative legal service providers – it is readily available and understandable to anyone with access to the Internet and no longer restricted to lawyers.[99] Not surprisingly, this new environment has had an adverse impact on the traditional law firm partnership (business) models of BigLaw and traditional law firms, not the least being that corporate and retail consumers – in the new age of the internet, legal technology, LegalZoom and RocketLawyer,[100] and assertive in-house legal departments – are sceptical that legal services “cannot be delivered in a cost effective manner”, and particularly “for routine matters”.[101]

It is reported that small businesses and most people in Canada and the U.S. (over 70% of the population) are forced to deal with legal matters without a lawyer because legal fees are unaffordable, and big business (corporations) are unhappy with the legal services that are available to them.[102]  Lawyers and the traditional law firm are no longer seen as “the straw that stirs the drink”,[103] but rather one feature in a broader supply chain.  For General Counsel “its getting harder and harder to see the value proposition with traditional outside counsel”[104] as legal costs are seen to be disproportionate to value.[105] Corporate clients are demanding much more value from their legal service providers for their legal spend, more cost effective legal services, and problem solving that straddles disciplinary lines – such as law and business, technology (and the Fourth Industrial Revolution),[106] and strategy.[107]  Corporate clients are engaged in a “paradigm shift”:[108]

“(1) an increasing willingness to procure services from providers with delivery models different than the traditional law firm partnership model; (2) taking more work in-house; (3) sourcing work—either internally or externally—to providers that are better aligned than law firms with the company’s risk tolerance and enterprise objectives; (4) utilizing technology, process, and ‘the right person for the right task’ to promote efficiency, mitigate risk, and reduce cost; and (5) rejecting the longstanding myth that only law firms—and lawyers—must perform all ‘legal’ tasks. Legal problems are increasingly viewed as business challenges raising legal issues.”

There is considerable resistance by clients to current pricing structures, including billable hours.

– Canadian Bar Association[109]

Not surprisingly, retail and corporate consumers are looking for legal service providers that are ‘better, faster, cheaper’, and deliver ‘more-for-less’.[110] Traditional law firms are no longer seen as a one-stop shop for their legal needs.[111]

Today we are experiencing an ever accelerating wave of alternative business models and technological innovation that is impacting legal services delivery and the way traditional law firms work and practice law. Traditional law firms are losing revenue to in-house law departments (insourcing more legal work), client use of technology (reducing demand for lawyers and paralegals), and non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services.[112] It is clear that, as traditional law firms compete for legal business, they face new competition from these lean and innovative NewLaw alternative legal service providers[113] that include in-house legal departments, legal process outsourcing companies, legal technology providers, Big Four and national accounting firms (where traditional lines between accounting and legal professional services are becoming increasingly blurred),[114] etc. These organizations are meeting with growing success due to their efficient, lower cost business models which in many cases include making far greater use of technology than traditional law firms.[115]

People are always sensitive to cost. And the more serious the problem, the more legal services are likely to cost. In fact, serious legal problems often cost more than the average person can afford. For that reason, members of the public may seek services from online service providers such as Legal Zoom, because of cost but also because of their hours, operations, location or client services. People who use online providers are, from the perspective of the legal profession, lost clients. In other words, the existing business structures are not effectively serving the market.

– Alternative Business Structures Working Group, Law Society of Upper Canada[116]

To pretend that these developments don’t matter, or won’t make any difference to the buying of legal services, would be a mistake.[117] Just being a “great lawyer is no longer a guarantee of a successful practice, or even a steady job”.[118] Quality legal work and expertise[119] is a basic client expectation – it is table stakes. However knowledgeable a lawyer may be in the “law”, corporate clients will not (and for retail consumers, simply cannot) retain lawyers with antiquated processes, technology, delivery model, and inappropriate price point.

So why is this happening? It’s complicated. But distilled to the core, it’s the inevitable result of years of complacency and inefficiency.[120]  Protected by legislated monopolies, the legal profession in North America has not been required to truly compete.[121] The traditional law firm – the legal profession – has been largely sheltered in North America from the full forces of competition,[122] a changing legal market, globalization, modernization of the profession,[123] alternative legal providers, and most importantly technology and innovation.[124]  Alternative legal service providers have had space to grow – and even “reach scale” – as many traditional law firms have been unresponsive or slow to address changing demand.[125]  While law firms “talk a big game on innovation and technology”,  in Canada[126] and the U.S.[127] the adoption of technology by law firms is far from universal, with only a small percentage of law firms proactively innovating[128] and others only taking steps in a reactionary way.[129]

Technology is affecting the way a number of sectors operate, having significant influence primarily on cost and time efficiency, but the legal sector is still reluctant to change. Although firms have started to invest in technological advancement, it has mainly been to help them maintain their profit margins. Firms have not truly attempted to understand what clients want to achieve through the use of technology, nor have they made much of an effort to pass on the savings to their clients. There is no doubt that a smattering of law firms and alternative legal services providers are genuinely making an attempt to push the boundaries, but the legal sector’s paradigm shift is still a long way off.

David Burgess [130]

The traditional law firm model has not been working well for legal consumers. There is considerable resistance to traditional law firm pricing structures, and there is a demand (and market) for transparency and predictability for pricing of legal services. They require lawyers to operate more like a business, with efficient cost effective legal services and justifiable costs incorporated into predictable pricing structures. They question the value proposition of the traditional lawyer – where the billable hour cost (which rewards inefficiency) exceeds the actual or perceived value of the legal service.[131] Price resistance and unpredictability are driving legal consumers out of the traditional law firm market (retail and small business to self-representation; corporate to in-house counsel) or to alternative legal service providers:[132]

“There has been significant growth in unregulated legal service providers in Ontario and elsewhere. This growth provides evidence that there is a demand for services not being effectively supplied by traditional legal practices.”

It used to be that any services provided by a lawyer were legal services and only a lawyer could provide those services.  Not anymore.  Alternative legal service providers are everywhere. And in some jurisdictions of the world, professionals in addition to lawyers practice together in alternative business structures.

– Jayne Reardon, The Disruption of Alternative Business Structures[133]

Legal services delivery is undergoing a radical shift, and expanding beyond the traditional law firm – both businesses and private individuals are increasingly willing to use the legal services of alternative firms other than traditional law firms.[134] Clearly the traditional law firm model has not been working well for the legal profession since at least the 2008 global financial crisis, and the situation has not gotten more attractive for Biglaw and traditional law firms today. For example:

  • Recent reporting by the American Lawyer examined the 2016 financial performance of the Am Law 200, representing the largest law firms in the United States. It found a stagnant scene. The top 50 name-brand firms have had anemic growth, and firms ranked from 51-100 actually saw a 1.3% decline in revenue, along with a profit-per-partner decline of 1.7% and profit-per-lawyer decline of 3.3%. Firms ranked from 101-200 have even bigger challenges, turning into the “hollow middle” of the legal market.[135]
  • Lawyers today practice in a marketplace where a law degree, call to the Bar (licensure),[136] and ‘knowing the law’—without more–won’t get them very far.[137] This is particularly true for junior and entry level lawyers who are well aware of the impact of technology and the waning legal market[138] – junior lawyers struggle with unemployment and underemployment; and new lawyers graduate from law school with increased debt, lower salary expectations, and fewer job choices.[139]
  • The lawyers in the U.S. and Canada providing services to low- or moderate-income clients are primarily solo and small firm practitioners. According to the most recent data from the American Bar Association, 49% of American practicing lawyers are solo practitioners (in Ontario sole or small firm practitioners – the traditional backbone of the profession – account for approximately 77% of the province’s law firms). And this population of lawyers is under financial strain.[140]
  • It is by now common knowledge that corporate clients are increasingly seeking comprehensive or all-inclusive solutions that cost effectively integrate law into a wider category of “business solutions”.[141] For corporations, legal problems are increasingly viewed as business challenges that raise legal issues. The kinds of business and legal problems that only teams of multidisciplinary experts can efficiently and effectively tackle.[142]
  • Lawyers are increasingly unaffordable to most individuals and small businesses. Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. According to studies, as much as 70%-90% of retail legal needs in society go unmet.[143]
  • Corporate and retail clients do not feel they are getting sufficient value for what they are paying.[144] Customer expectations are now ‘better, faster, cheaper’ and ‘more-for-less’ or.[145]
  • The Big Four accounting firms have significant law firm divisions, and consulting firms are now hiring lawyers (not to practice law per se), to provide multi-disciplinary advice where business issues have a legal component.[146] The Big Four are moving into legal services as part of their wider effort to offer corporate clients their delivery model of “globally integrated business solutions” (where an important component of the business solution that they offer is law).[147] The Big Four are beginning to be looked upon as more than “just the scorers”, they are becoming recognised by corporate clients as multidisciplinary business advisers who can solve complex problems and decrease enterprise risk. The Big Four accounting firms are approaching a combined tally of 9000 lawyers worldwide.[148]
  • NewLaw alternative legal service firms operating under a low cost economic model are attracting day-to-day commodity work from businesses that historically “paid the light bill” for traditional law firms.[149]
  • The Internet supports a new competitor in the retail market, providing a vehicle for non-traditional legal service providers to make affordable – and in some cases free (i.e. DoNotPay – parking tickets, uncontested divorces, etc.)[150] – legal information and services available to individuals and small businesses.[151] These non-law firm, non-traditional, and non-regulated providers (i.e. LegalZoom, Avvo, RocketLawyers) of online quasi-legal services provide direction to their primary users, individuals and small businesses, to conduct their own legal matters and/or resolve disputes directly.[152] And business is booming as measured by revenue, market share, and influence.[153]
  • Corporate law departments are outsourcing and insourcing more work away from traditional lawyers and law firms.[154] Corporate clients are keeping more work in-house, both as a cost-saving measure and because in-house lawyers know more about the business and thus offer direct more focused advice.[155] Altman Weil’s 2017 Law Firms in Transition Survey notes that “two-thirds of firms report losing business to corporate law department insourcing”, and “19%” report losing business to “non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services”.[156] According to ALM Intelligence and Morrison & Foerster’s recent General Counsel Up-at-Night Report[157] 73% of legal work is now being performed in-house. Corporate legal departments, once only legal buyers, are now embracing a new business model that includes also being the corporation’s principal legal services provider.[158]
  • Although law firm innovation is taking place to a degree, adoption of technology by traditional law firms in U.S. and Canada is far from comprehensive or universal.[159] The UK experience has found that ABSs have higher levels of innovation than their ‘traditional’ law firm counterparts and, in turn, have had a transformational impact in how legal services are delivered.[160]
  • When law firms compete, the organizational structures compete as well.[161] The ability to innovate is closely related to the ability to raise capital. Although most businesses have a variety of options to raise the capital needed to operate, traditional law firms are not permitted to raise capital outside of seeking bank loans and partnership buy-ins. Entrepreneurial lawyers with novel ideas for the delivery of legal services have fewer options to finance new ventures if operating within a traditional law firm.[162]
  • In a market economy, the consumer usually dictates business. Corporate clients demand cost effectiveness, and the number of law firms (and non-lawyer alternative legal service providers) competing for their business means that over time they will get it. In a world where competitiveness demands efficiency, the policy choices of the UK and Australia will ultimately impact North American law firms. If there are ethical trade-offs with the liberalized structure, then both legal consumers (corporate and retail) and UK and Australian policymakers are comfortable with them.[163]
  • Law’s insular culture is being reshaped by corporate and retail consumers. They are effectively re-regulating legal delivery by driving change from the consumer side.[164]

Both businesses and private individuals are increasingly willing to use the legal services of firms other than traditional law firms. More than half of all in-house legal departments now consider buying legal services from online providers such as LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer and LawDepot.

– Law Firms Face Increasing Competition from Non-Traditional Sources[165]

This is more than a wakeup call or point of observation—it is a rare defining moment. This is also the kick in the pants any traditional law firm in North America should see as a “screaming voice for change”.[166]

The law firm partnership model is not a business structure best suited to embracing innovation, and “is one of the worst for embracing change simply because it is so difficult to get consensus among the owners” – the partners – “of the business”.[167]  The outdated partnership model encourages partner self-interest (short-term performance over creating long-term value), and usually exhibits inherent weaknesses of being slow, incremental committee decision-making, often thin management experience, easy dissolution, and short-term planning:[168]

  • A law firm partnership is proprietary. Partners consider themselves first and foremost as proprietors of banks of clients and books of business. Their loyalty and commitment to the law firm is usually only as good as the law firm is able to sustain an environment for them that’s conducive to maximization of billings.
  • Partners under invest in law firms. Usually a partner’s primary interest is to draw down the maximum allowable amount of income on the monthly basis that’s been apportioned to them by the firm Partnership. The traditional law firm may be seen as “a shell like umbrella” that is used to market their expertise and manage their client services. The business model provides little incentive to forego distributions and invest in technology or other long-term solutions to better serve the firm’s or other partners’ clients or potential clients.
  • The Law Firms in Transition Survey (of 2015, 2016, and 2017) consistently confirmed that law firm leaders believe that the pace of change within the profession is increasing. However, leadership cited “partner resistance” as one of the reasons for their firms not doing more to change their practices in order to compete (i.e. “still many partners resist change in all its forms”).
  • Law firm capital accounts hold the firm’s working capital. If, or when, the ‘rainmaker’ partners leave, they can take their clients with them, and – even more perilous to the traditional law firm – withdraw their capital contributions. Such an exodus of capital and the partner’s associated cash flow, as well as the related problem of the firm sometimes replacing that missing capital by excessive leveraging, has resulted in a number of law firms collapsing.
  • This is the “war that’s been raging within law firms”, the fight for control of the business between individual Partners and the law firm leadership, with the law firm looking “long term” and the Partner level lawyer looking “short term” and with a “self-interest”.

To be successful in the ‘new normal’, law firm leadership must overcome the ‘partnership drag’[169] of the law firm business model, such that partners undermining the survival or long term success of the law firm are not allowed to ‘dictate the firm’s strategy and direction’, or lack thereof.  To compete, traditional law firms must “become commercial enterprises as well as professional service shops”, instituting business processes and leveraging technology. Without access to ABSs, in recent years BigLaw and larger traditional law firms in North America have been forced to “mimic” as best they can a corporate hierarchy and business discipline “better adapted for the overall survival of the business” than the traditional law firm model.[170]

Those [Law] firms that are able to adjust to the new market realities, not by putting band-aids on the old models, but rather by engaging in a thoughtful review and (where necessary) redesign of their approaches to client service, pricing, legal work processes, talent management, and overall structure will enjoy an enormous competitive advantage. Those that do not will face an increasingly uncertain future.

– 2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market[171]

The traditional law firm in North America today does not have the luxury of stability since it faces an ever increasing change in global and national markets, customers and technology. It needs to accept, adopt and implement changes in the business model according to changing trends, technologies, customer preferences, and future concerns. Further, the core business of the traditional law firm is constantly under threat today from the new alternative legal service providers to the marketplace utilizing different and competitive business paradigms. Hence the traditional law firm cannot afford to depend upon or be restricted to the traditional law firm business model – they need at least the option of ABSs that may include, for example, “multi-disciplinary partnerships, public companies, financial investor-backed private companies, or blended hybrid structures”.[172]

There is a path forward for traditional law firms that meets the needs of corporate and retail consumers in the ‘new normal’, but leadership and the legal delivery model must evolve. However, to date the legal profession in North America – Canada and the U.S. – remains steadfastly opposed to any regulatory reform that would permit ABSs, or other forms of legal service delivery.[173]  Until the profession and their regulators in Canada and the U.S. begin to accept that the traditional law firm business model is threatened by their currently inflexible business structures, the calls for reform from the profession will be minimal.

https://therepairstore.ca/qrzpuzbohqu The Legal Profession’s Monopoly – “increasingly intellectually indefensible” in the 21st Century

Insulation of lawyers from non-lawyer competition or influence is a distinctive feature of legal services regulation in Canada and the United States.[174] As discussed, non-lawyers are generally prohibited from practicing law, which is deemed the ‘unauthorized practice of law’ in North America.

A broad interpretation of unauthorized practice statutes is increasingly intellectually indefensible, especially because of a concern that the impetus to exclude others is motivated by a desire to give lawyers a competitive advantage.

– Professor Judith McMorrow, Boston College Law School[175]

Several different rationales have been put forward in defense of unauthorized practice of law (UPL) rules, but the main justification is that the UPL rules protect of the public in respect to integrity and competence[176] – that is, they are asserted to protect consumers from unqualified and incompetent practitioners.[177] Although UPL rules are promulgated in the interest of protecting the public, some legal commentators have expressed skepticism at this purported justification – noting that they rest on faulty or untested assumptions:[178]

“Critics of UPL point out that these justifications rest on faulty or untested assumptions, such as that a lawyer is always more competent than a non-lawyer for a given task, or that in a free market consumers will choose incompetent non-lawyers. For example, some argue that consumers of legal services look toward indicia of reliability other than licensing when determining the competence of a provider, and that broad consumer protection statutes are more effective at protecting consumers from incompetent and fraudulent providers than are UPL statutes. Most importantly, empirical evidence demonstrates that non-lawyers can be just as effective as lawyers at resolving certain legal issues. In fact, some studies have suggested that a non-lawyer who is familiar with a given forum or area of law may make a better advocate than a lawyer with more general legal knowledge.”

The argument in favor of UPL rules “assumes that clients cannot be trusted to choose for themselves whether they want to pay for the extra protection of a [lawyer] generalist instead of the narrower protection of a non-lawyer specialist.” In addition, it fails to address the point that even “clients who are aware of the limitations on the abilities and ethics of non-lawyers might rationally want to hire them despite their shortcomings because, in a free competitive market for legal services, those shortcomings will bring lower prices” – the cost of a lawyer’s services being a common factor cited for not seeking a lawyer’s services.[179]

In short: “the public may not desire the ‘protection’ that the Bar and the Courts have instituted on their behalf”.[180] In this vein, Professor Rhode has noted that if enforcement of UPL rules are in the public’s interest “the public has remained curiously unsupportive of the war effort”.[181]

In a speech to the Bar, Justice McLachlin – Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada – remarked that protectionist “assumptions” should not be permitted to prevail unchallenged, asking why legal consumers should “be forced to go to expensive lawyers working in expensive office buildings located in expensive urban centres”.[182]

As the legal profession grapples with an evolving legal market, technology and changes in society, the Canadian Bar Association finally joined with legal commentators and academics to call for revisions to the rules governing lawyers, in particular “scrapping the current regime that prohibits non-lawyer ownership of law firms”.[183] The Canadian Bar Association’s 2014 Legal Futures Initiative report stated that there is “good evidence from Australia and England and Wales that non-lawyer ownership need not cause harm to client representation or the public interest”, and recommended that the “Canadian regulatory framework should be liberalized accordingly to achieve similar benefits”. Citing globalization, technology, market competition and a need for expanded access to justice, the CBA report stated that lawyers must be able to work “through new structures and in conjunction with other professionals (including alternative business structures)”. [184]

The Canadian Bar Association’s recommendation has not been followed by any of the legal profession’s self-regulators in any common law province[185] across Canada.  No Law Society has taken steps to introduce modern reforms – similar to what has occurred in the UK and Australia – necessary to authorize ABSs to the traditional law firm.

ABS in Ontario killed by the foul stench of protectionism.

– Mitch Kowalski, September 28, 2015[186]

In 2015 the Law Society of Upper Canada’s ABS Working Group unilaterally determined that the legal profession would not consider ABSs for the delivery of legal services to the public that may involve “majority ownership or control of traditional law firms by non-lawyers”.[187] In 2017 the law society – with much debate and consternation[188] – took possibly the smallest step available to simply address “poverty law services” for vulnerable populations. The legal profession’s self-regulator in Ontario “approved, in principle, a policy to permit lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services through civil society organizations, such as charities and not-for-profit organizations” for vulnerable people in need of legal services in addition to social and health services.[189] This small step appears to encompass the existing Ontario Legal Aid funded[190] not-for-profit “legal clinic system made up of about 77 clinics” [191] delivering “poverty law services”.[192] Nevertheless, even this exceptionally limited step to address the Ontario ‘access to justice crisis’ for vulnerable populations seems to have met resistance from the personal injury bar “concerned that new alternative business structure initiatives approved by the Law Society of Upper Canada are the beginning of a slippery slope toward non-lawyer ownership of law firms”.[193]

Professor Hadfield commented that legal aid will not solve our access to justice issue.

– Mary Juetten, Forbes[194]

The U.S. is experiencing the same resistance from its organized bar and regulators. Mark Cohen, a U.S. legal commentator has said that “one would imagine that the regulations governing the legal industry here would have been revisited—as they have been in several other advanced economies—to reflect technology, new models, and client demand”:[195]

“Not so. Three times since the turn of the new Millennium, the American Bar Association and State Bars have declined to adopt some version of legal re-regulation that eases the current prohibitions of ‘non-lawyer’ investment, ownership, and management of law firms. This is in contrast to the UK, Australia, and other legal markets that have sanctioned ‘alternative business structures’ designed to kick-start competition and innovation. It’s hard to rationalize the 3X thumbs down of regulatory reform in the U.S. where most of our population—including small businesses– cannot afford representation due to its sky-high cost–the ‘access to justice crisis,’ and corporate clients are migrating work from law firms, the incumbent provider source.”

[I]t is interesting to consider struggles within the ABA to address the question of innovation in the provision of legal services. … [in particular a] proposed … rule permitting non-lawyer ownership of law practice entities. The proposal was on the basis that “[a]dherence to the traditional prohibitions has impeded development of new methods of providing legal services”. The proposal was soundly defeated by the lawyers in the House of Delegates. … “The attractive possibility that ordinary Americans might be able to obtain simple legal services quickly and easily was of no matter.”

– Malcolm Mercer, Unmet Legal Needs – the Challenge to Legal Practice and to Self-Regulation[196]

While the regulatory framework may have originally served the U.S. and Canadian legal profession – and historically the wider public – it is no longer tenable to continue to rely on this framework which is no longer appropriately aligned with the public it was established to protect. Self-regulation of the legal profession has strong historical and protectionist roots that are no longer consistent with the 21st Century, modern legal services, or the future needs of the industry and public/consumers in North America. The antiquated rules prescribing who can deliver legal services (lawyers) and the acceptable business structures (the partnership model) were put in place in a different era, at a different time and under different circumstances.[197]

In a liberal democratic society committed to the public interest, competition is presumptively good, while monopoly is presumptively bad. The burden of proof should be on those who favour a monopoly in the provision of legal services to justify why it is defensible in the public interest, rather than lawyers’ interests.

– Richard Devlin and Ora Morison, Access to Justice and the Ethics and Politics of Alternative Business Structures [198]

Moving Forward: Public Policy supports ABSs in Canada and the U.S.

https://manabernardes.com/2024/mxfyjcs  Self-regulated professions can stifle competition and innovation, resulting in higher prices, less efficient use of resources, discouragement of new developments, and a tendency toward rigidity in the structure and trading methods of those businesses. Such collective restrictions tend to reduce the pressures upon the profession to increase their efficiency. They may also delay the introduction of new forms of service and elimination of inefficient practitioners.[199] The major policy challenge is to identify and remove the restrictions which are unnecessary or disproportionate to achieve public interest goals. Competition law and advocacy can play a major role in this respect, either by challenging anti-competitive activity as illegal or advocating changes to laws and regulations.[200]

The law firm partnership model in Canada and the U.S. is a poor institutional choice for the delivery of legal services in today’s legal market. The resistance to change by the legal profession and its regulators is not in the best interest of the legal consumer (retail or corporate), alternative legal service providers, or the traditional law firms they are looking to protect. [201]  The legal profession’s monopoly and its legal services delivery structure fails to serve virtually all of its stakeholders.[202] The legal profession’s monopoly must be re-examined with a critical eye.[203]

The public has a legitimate interest in seeing that [self-regulated professions] are bound by rules ensuring that (i) they operate primarily in service of the public interest, and (ii) they are subject to a high level of public accountability.

– C.D. Howe Institute, Who Watches the Watchmen? The Role of the Self-Regulator[204]

Markets generally work best for consumers when there is unrestricted competition between existing suppliers, and unrestricted potential competition from new suppliers and from new forms of supply.[205] What ABSs are designed to do is increase competition between existing law firms and introduce new entrants to the market for the benefit of the legal consumer.[206]

Legal commentators and academics[207] have long been in favour of choice, open markets, and competition (from traditional channels to online legal advice and services) – understanding that any alternative would have to be subject to the same requirements to protect consumers and the wider public interest as those that apply to lawyers today.[208]  The judiciary has been particularly vocal – with even the Chief Justice of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, expressing serious concerns about access to justice in Canada and explicitly identifying the legal profession as one of the contributing variables in the troubling equation.[209] In this environment, the Canadian Bar Association has added its voice to the debate, recommending to the profession and its self-regulators that “lawyers should be allowed to practice in business structures that permit fee-sharing, multidisciplinary practice, and ownership, management, and investment by persons other than lawyers or other regulated legal professionals”.[210]

The legal profession’s rules prohibiting ABSs in Canada and the U.S. are archaic and unsustainable: law firms and non-lawyer innovators should be permitted the opportunity to offer the retail and corporate legal consumer innovative, competitive, accessible, and affordable “regulated” legal services through the vehicle of ABSs – in line with the UK and Australian experience.[211]

From a public policy perspective, the organized bar in Canada and the U.S. should not be permitted to utilize the Rules of Professional Conduct and unauthorized practice of law prohibition as tools of economic protectionism to safeguard their monopoly.[212] These rules must be re-examined with a critical eye.[213]  The legal profession in the UK lost the right of self-regulation for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons was that their self-regulatory bodies were seen to be anti-competitive – they acted like monopolists.[214]

All around the world jurisdictions are reconsidering and ultimately abandoning self-regulation as a model for the governance of the legal profession.  Whether it be Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, England and Wales, South Africa or Ireland a wide range of advanced liberal democratic societies have assessed self-regulation and found it wanting as an defensible regime.

– Richard Devlin and Porter Heffernan, The End(s) of Self-Regulation[215]

While the advantages of self-regulation are generally understood by governments and the professions (professionalism, ethical standards, independence of the bar, rule of law), the downside of this form of regulation is less understood and often complicated by the nature of the interests at play. The downside of delegating broad regulatory powers to the legal profession is that such delegation may not always produce regulation that serves public interest objectives, but rather may represent the immediate interests of its lawyer members at the expense of, or instead of, the broader interests of society and the public.[216]

In Canada and the U.S. the legal profession has failed to proactively adjust to changes in society, technology, economics, and globalization –  despite consumer demand, entrepreneurs’ efforts to enter the legal marketplace to serve the needs of corporate and retail clients, and a roadmap shared by proactive public oriented Regulators in England, Wales, and Australia.[217]

At its worst, delegation of legislative power to a professional or occupational association disproportionately increases the economic power of these organizations and can lead to their entrenchment as monopolies that restrict competition.

– C.D. Howe Institute, Who Watches the Watchmen? The Role of the Self-Regulator[218]

(a) History: legal profession’s legacy of resistance to change

The history of the North American legal profession and self-regulation is a complex one. The profession has resisted change. When it does institute change, the change is usually directed not at the existing members of the profession, but at new entrants. In most cases, the change that has been implemented has been forced by influences of society, culture, economics, and globalization—not by the profession itself. In short, outside of progressive jurisdictions such as the UK and Australia, the legal profession is generally ponderous, backward looking, and self-preserving – “it clings to the past and precedent and seeks only to protect, preserve, and maintain”.[219]

Protect, preserve, and maintain.

– James Moliterno, The Trouble with Lawyer Regulation.[220]

Lawyers have historically been resistant and even threatened by innovation. Part of this is the economic self-interest one sees in any existing industry—the existing bar is not anxious to foster radical change that would create new competition or reduce profit. But part of the resistance is cultural, which is perhaps not all that surprising given that the vocation is dominated by adherence to precedence. Lawyers practice in a literally storied profession that emphasizes the independence of the lawyer and the status of the occupation as a profession rather than a business. This cultural tradition includes scepticism of innovation in the provision of legal services or of anything that might challenge the norms of legal professionalism. This tradition – and the Rules of Professional Conduct – have been used to justify opposition to any perceived threat to lawyer “independence”; and it has been used to justify a variety of restrictions on who can practice law and how they can do so.[221]

Regulators of the legal profession in the U.S. and Canada[222] must vigorously advance the “public interest” as opposed to pursing “self-interested regulatory decisions”.  However, this does not always take place due to a number of factors, including: (a) the appearance of inherent conflict in self-regulation (which may be mostly ignored, not recognized or misunderstood);[223] (b) a “fundamentally conservative mission” – preserve and maintain – and; (c) a ratification process ill-suited to innovation and reform (i.e. regulators in Canada and the U.S.[224] are controlled by lawyers or former lawyers who, by training and disposition, tend to resist change).[225] In addition, one may become inured to the “characteristics” of the profession, or absorbed into the prevailing environment of self-justification and reasoning (i.e. “it is just the way things get done here – its cultural”).

Taken all together there appears to be an implicit challenge to reforming an industry that regulates itself, and – according to one legal commentator – where those regulators are or were senior lawyers who have benefited or are benefitting from the system being inefficient[226] and protectionist.[227]

In addition, particularly in Canada, is that “protectionist pressures on law societies exist both in election campaigning and by fact that the majority of law society governors are market incumbents”[228] – despite the fact that the Law Society’s “role is to protect the public, not the vested interests of some of its members”.[229] The views of lawyers that the Law Society oversees is “likely an important consideration in any prospective policy change to legal regulation”.[230]

Ontario lawyers elected the 40 representatives or “benchers” who will govern [the Law Society] until 2019. Of the winners, at least 25 were on a list of anti-ABS candidates distributed by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. The OTLA has been actively campaigning against ABS.

– Drew Hasselback, Financial Post[231]

Regulators in the U.S. and Canada may be perceived by the public as both cheerleader and prefect, bar leaders who may possibly fail to tackle the profession’s troubles in areas that may be seen to be in conflict with “protectionist instincts”.  Bar leaders and lawyers who treat law societies as defenders of the profession feed the erosion of public confidence in self-regulation.[232] Malcom Mercer, the Chair of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Professional Regulation Committee, and Law Society Bencher, noted that self-regulation can be “lost all at once or bit by bit”:[233]

“It is ironic that client conflicts are treated so seriously while the inherent conflict in self-regulation is mostly ignored. Commonly, this conflict is not really recognized or understood. Some think that the public interest is virtually invariably the same as the interest of the legal professions. Pressures from stakeholders and the realities of elections affect how elected benchers perceive issues and their roles. …

For those who consider self-regulation to be essential to independence of the bar, the need for governance mechanisms and policy decisions to ensure that the public interest is advanced should be powerful. The same should be true for those who merely see value in self-regulation. On an issue by issue basis, members of the private bar and their representatives should recognize that protectionist instincts that result in self-interested regulatory decisions can be counter-productive in the longer run. And in any event, those who have accepted responsibility in the public interest rather than the interest of their profession should of course act accordingly.”

Prior to the election of Law Society of Upper Canada benchers … the Ontario Trial Lawyers’ Association posted on its website a list of benchers who opposed the introduction of Alternative Business Structures. … The focus on ABS highlights starkly the disjunct that can exist between the electoral interests of the legal profession and the public in whose interests law societies must regulate. While everyone who argues about ABS – for or against it – frames those arguments in terms of the public interest, the fact remains that the people most likely to be affected by the adoption of ABS are lawyers.

– Professor Woolley, Bencher Elections – the Challenge to Self Regulations Legitimacy[234]

Self-regulation has some virtues that help it to qualify as a public good. However, its virtues are not unqualified and it needs to be located in the context of other competing public goods, such as guarding against conflicts of interest, access to justice, the protection and promotion of consumer interests, and the promotion of competition.[235]

(b) Rationale for Unauthorized Practice of Law: “Questionable”

The rationale for ‘unauthorized practice of law’ restrictions in today’s world raises many questions about the need for maintaining a lawyer monopoly upon the practice of law.[236] While evaluation of the appropriate degree and form of regulation of the legal profession requires an assessment of values which cannot be measured in purely economic or financial terms (i.e. independence of the bar, ethical standards, rule of law),[237] the current regulations and guidelines do not consistently “promote the public interest in the provision of efficient, accessible and ethical legal services”,[238] and may in fact undermine consumer access to legal services and the traditional law firms ability to compete.

In an era where there are more lawyers per capita than ever before, one would think – as a functional matter – that the lawyer monopoly must be responsible to some degree for the lack of cost effective legal services,[239] and affordable options that might otherwise be made available in a more diversified market for legal services:[240]

“The argument in favor of UPL rules “assumes that clients cannot be trusted to choose for themselves whether they want to pay for the extra protection of a [lawyer] generalist instead of the narrower protection of a non-lawyer specialist.” In addition, even “clients who are aware of the limitations on the abilities and ethics of non-lawyers might rationally want to hire them despite their shortcomings because, in a free competitive market for legal services, those shortcomings will bring lower prices”. …  The cost of a lawyer’s services is a common factor cited for not seeking a lawyer’s services. … The public may not desire the “protection” that the bar and the courts have instituted on their behalf.”

Access to justice, the justice gap, or equal justice, all describe the same problem. In the U.S. [and Canada], the majority of our citizens cannot get legal help, whether that is for criminal charges, civil matters, or their small-business issues.

– Mary E. Juetten, ABA Journal[241]

In addition to the “access to justice” issue for middle and low income retail consumers and small businesses, should regulators even be permitted to use the Rules of Professional Conduct “as a tool of economic protectionism”[242] to prohibit the informed utilization of ABSs – such as alternative legal service delivery models like the Big Four accounting firms[243] – over the wishes of sophisticated corporations well protected by their own General Counsel and internal legal teams?  At the end of the day, all things being equal, one would think that an ‘informed’ sophisticated corporation, as the client purchasing the legal service, “should be accorded primacy over lawyer self-interest”.[244]

The penetration of the Big Four is less obvious in North America but it’s growing with only regulatory hurdles in the way. … but sooner or later there will be cracks in that.

– Accounting Firms in Law: The Long Game[245]

Ultimately for sophisticated corporate clients, it is their organization and shareholders – and ultimately their consumers – who are not well served. The emergence of a competitive and innovative legal services marketplace will benefit corporations and consumers alike. The legal profession in Canada and the U.S. must come to terms with the reality that the traditional law firm is no longer an acceptable response to competition from alternative legal providers who are innovative, competitive, in many cases multidisciplinary,[246] and cost effective.[247]

Indeed, the General Counsel for one of the largest Banks in Canada – BMO’s Simon Fish – reportedly left an audience speechless when he said that, all things being equal, “it doesn’t matter” if a company’s legal work was done by a law firm or an accounting firm.[248]

The Big Four are much more agile and creative than law firms. … the Big Four are being proactive and they’re expanding what they do because they want to be in a company’s boardroom every six months. So if there’s any more doubt that Canada’s major firms will have to spread their wings in Big Four fashion, it’s quickly disappearing.

– Accounting Firms in Law: The Long Game[249]

Traditional law firms need to take a hard look at their business models in Canada and the U.S., or they risk getting left behind. Despite protectionist self-regulation in North America, General Counsel and their in-house legal departments are unilaterally effecting de facto re-regulation for corporate consumers of legal services[250]  – functioning “as a captive non-lawyer owner and investor in a ‘firm’ that has a single corporate client”:[251]

“[General Counsel and the in-house legal departments] have become corporate law’s largest providers, ‘insourcing’ work from law firms and/or outsourcing it to service providers. There are many key differences between [traditional law] firms and corporate legal departments and providers. While both operate under the same regulatory scheme [in the U.S. and Canada], the distinctions reflect the regulatory scheme’s failure to distinguish between legal ‘practice’ and the ‘business of delivering legal services.’ In-house departments and service providers have circumnavigated anachronistic legal self-regulation that is principally designed to insulate lawyers from competition.” [252]

ALM Intelligence has found that 80 per cent of in-house departments are insourcing more; 40 per cent are decreasing their use of law firms; and 68 per cent are increasing the use of alternative service providers.[253]

To simply attack non-traditional or non-lawyer technological legal service providers (ie. LegalZoom, Avvo, Rocket Lawyer) through the enforcement of unauthorized practice laws – or refuse to allow true ‘fully integrated’ multi-disciplinary[254] professional service firms composed of lawyers and non-lawyers ‘collaborating as equals’ to serve the public through ABSs to the traditional law firm – can no longer be accepted as appropriate. These rules artificially increase the price of capital, impede the emergence of cost effective legal service providers (including within the legal profession), and preclude ‘fully integrated’ inter-professional collaborations.[255]

Canadian and American legal commentators have long noted that “protected by legislated monopolies, law firms had been allowed to grow complacent and inefficient,”[256] and that “lawyer protectionism is the glue that binds the anachronistic self-regulated legal industry”.[257] In other industries, similar restrictions on competition might be considered anticompetitive and illegal.[258]

There is a point at which an institution [regulator] attempting to provide protection to a public that seems clearly, over a long period, not to want it, and perhaps not to need it—there is a point when that institution must wonder whether it is providing protection or imposing its will. It must wonder whether it is helping or hurting the public.[259]

(c) Strong reasons favour ABSs in Canada and the U.S.

The chief reason ABSs were introduced in jurisdictions outside of North America was to increase competition between existing traditional law firm “legal service” suppliers and encourage the introduction of new or alternative legal service suppliers, with the intention of benefiting consumers in the forms of a greater degree of choice, higher quality of service, and lower cost. [260]  Although a variety of ABSs exist, they exhibit the following three principal features that differentiate them from traditional law firms:[261]

  1. Allow non-lawyers to hold ownership interests in law firms/alternative legal providers. The percentage of the non-lawyer ownership interest may be restricted (as in Italy, which permits only 33% ownership by non-lawyers) or unlimited (as in Australia which permits 100%).
  2. Permit investment by non-lawyers. Some jurisdictions permit passive investment, while other jurisdictions permit non-lawyer owners only to the extent that they are actively involved in the business.
  3. Operate as a multidisciplinary practice (MDP), which means that it can provide non-legal professional services in addition to legal services (i.e. UK and Australia permit MDPs which allows lawyers and non-lawyers to partner on an equal basis, and share profits without restriction among the professionals; i.e. Big Four accounting firms).[262]

Why … are alternative business models needed and, more to the point, so desirable? Because, as my own experience and that of lawyers in Australia and the United Kingdom demonstrates, non-lawyer ownership generates new and often generous working capital.

– Alistair Vigier, Canadian Lawyer[263]

The flexibility of the ABS is mutually beneficial to law firms, alternative legal service providers, consumers, etc). ABSs provide firms with greater access to the capital markets as well as flexibility of funds (enhanced financial flexibility) and management structures (enhanced operational flexibility). By loosening the rules on legal services delivery and permitted business structures, regulators in Canada and the U.S. can encourage more innovation and business process improvement,[264] including increased investment in technology and knowledge management systems, and strategic partnering of lawyers with other professionals, including business professionals and technology experts (IT engineers, design thinkers, law technologists, law data scientists).[265] There are strong reasons in favour of ABSs, chief among them improved access to affordable and regulated legal services for retail and corporate consumers.[266] The four main reasons in support of ABSs can be summarized as follows:[267]

  1. Increased access to justice: The nature of the problem of access to legal services is not that hard to name: legal services cost more than most people, and some businesses, can afford. Why are legal services so expensive? The traditional practice of law is a monopoly. Restricting non-lawyer ownership of legal service firms limits innovation (of lower cost means of delivering legal services) and economies of scale for legal service delivery, and increases prices to the detriment of clients. To reduce the cost of legal services and increase access to legal assistance, the form in which legal services are produced and delivered to the retail and small business market has to change. Business processes and technology can provide lower-cost solutions, and firms with scope and scale can deliver services in a way that a small business professional cannot. ABSs will improve consumer choice and value because additional sources of capital will increase scale and innovation, and encourage legal service providers to take greater steps “in improving their services.” That innovation – and increased competition across the board – in turn will allow legal service providers to deliver legal services at competitive more affordable prices to the legal consumer.
  2. Enhanced financial flexibility: Equity can be raised from a broader base, including outside of the legal sector. ABSs offer significant and needed financial flexibility, including asset protection, greater flexibility for raising and retaining capital, greater flexibility for remunerating non-lawyer professionals and employees (more equal reward to attract and retain the appropriate talent), possible tax advantages, and opportunities to introduce more effective management and decision-making arrangements. The traditional financial model is more limited. Permitting non-lawyer investment (including equity financing)[268] would also help smaller law firms, sole practitioners, and newer lawyers afford to, for example, partner with skilled information technology professionals to develop innovative ways to deliver legal services.
  3. Enhanced operational flexibility: ABSs offer firms flexibility in how they structure and run their business. ABSs allow firms to strengthen their management teams through the increased use of non-lawyer business professionals. Although some BigLaw and larger traditional law firms employ some non-lawyer business professionals in some operational roles,[269] it would stimulate better management for all firms (small, medium or large) to have the ability to attract and retain a broader range of business executives and/or managers if there was an option to offer a share of the firm’s ownership (or other more equal reward). Non-lawyer business professionals can offer law firms distinct insight that can improve the delivery of legal services to their clients.
  4. Increased cost effectiveness and quality of services: ABSs in the form of multidisciplinary practices offer benefits to both law firms and consumers. The “major benefit of multidisciplinary services is the delivery of an integrated team approach to serving client interests – providing clients with a ‘one-stop shopping’ approach for problems requiring services in different fields.” This results in an “efficiency that translates into savings of time or money, and ensures the delivery of a higher quality product to the client with lower transaction costs.”

The [UK law] firm is bringing in five times as much revenue and 10 times the profit as it did before instituting its alternative business structure … “Having been in private equity, it seemed obvious to me that running a law firm through an equity partnership structure was dysfunctional,” says [UK lawyer and law firm CEO David] Beech, “and the potential opportunity was significant”.

– ABA Journal[270]

Not surprisingly, a growing number of governments and jurisdictions around the world have, or are pressing for, deregulation of the market for legal services, with the legitimate goal of promoting competition, reducing prices, and spurring innovation.[271]   While only a few countries currently allow full integration of non-lawyers and law firms (via ABSs), many other jurisdictions permit forms of ABSs to a greater or lesser extent:[272] (a) non-lawyers can own and control law firms/legal service providers in Australia, Britain and Wales, and Mexico; (b) non-lawyers  can collaborate and share costs – to a greater or lesser extent – in China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Scotland, Denmark, Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Singapore,[273] New Zealand, District of Columbia and Washington State within the U.S.,[274] and Ontario, Canada;[275] and (c) non-lawyers are generally prohibited from the legal profession in the U.S.,[276] Canada,[277] Brazil, and India.[278]

There is no downside to an ABS licence and it will give us extra flexibility to admit members to the LLP who are not solicitors.

– Michael Ward, Head of Legal Practice, Gateley Plc, UK[279]

The UK and Australia have been the most aggressive of the jurisdictions to take up this deregulatory movement in an effort to modernize the delivery of legal services for consumers.[280]  The UK enacted the Legal Services Act of 2007,[281] ushering in the most influential deregulatory reforms in the history of the market for legal services anywhere in the world. These reforms expressly authorized ABSs to the traditional law firms, and removed self-regulation in the legal profession by creating an independent body to oversee legal regulators in England and Wales.[282]

With new entrants to the legal services market in ABS approved jurisdictions has come increased external investment (private equity and venture capital) injected into legal businesses by outside investors”.[283] To date, the UK experience has found that ABSs have higher levels of innovation than their traditional law firm counterparts and, in turn, have had a transformational impact in how legal services are delivered.[284]  Retail and corporate consumers “have viable options that previously did not exist”, including even “AI lawyers” on their computers. The available options – in particular the non-traditional and non-law firm legal service providers – are cost-effective, tech and process savvy, and expert in integrated legal delivery.[285]

In England and Wales we’ve found that a number of firms have used the ABS model to adapt their businesses in different ways. … The dawn of ABSs may result in increased competition for traditional firms, but the potential benefits to clients in the form of greater choice, lower cost, and increased access to justice, shows their value to the legal world.

– Jonathan Smithers, President, Law Society of England & Wales[286]

(d) Decreasing Relevance of Geographical Borders

Interestingly, some innovative companies in the U.S. and Canada – such as American companies like LegalZoom[287]  and DoNotPay[288] – have set their sights across the pond. LegalZoom for example, in establishing its UK foothold, has indicated that it’s “longer-term priority is to use the U.K. as a ‘legal laboratory,’ a place to experiment with different customer service and delivery models to determine what the best “consumer-facing” legal service looks like and then expand that model outside the UK”.[289]

Deregulation of the ownership of professional service firms outside of North America is bringing the market discipline of private equity or the stock market to the legal industry. This is spawning new, disruptive business models, and technology is enabling these firms to look and behave in ways that are bigger than they actually are.[290]

As noted by legal commentators such as Ken Grady, “the rules are changing in the legal industry” and most U.S. and Canadian “lawyers have lost track of the game. Under the old rules, lawyers practiced law. That was it — that was the rule. Under the new rules, many parties provide services that fall under the general umbrella of ‘legal services’. Sometimes, those services constitute ‘practicing law’ by almost any definition”, and “many times, the services fall into the not-well-defined universe”.[291] For North America, the change in the rules means that many more are playing the game: [292]

“Now, if the players were limited to those who do things in the U.S. [and Canada], we would have one story. But, the game is more interesting. The number of players is unlimited and they come from all over the world. And to make it really interesting, they don’t play by the U.S. rules — they have their own rules.

As legal services get distributed around the world … understanding that the rules have changed will be a big deal.”

Chris Bentley, Executive Director of the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University in Toronto, has noted that “jurisdictional boundaries mean less and less”.[293]  Therefore, although the legal profession’s regulators in Canada and the U.S. refuse to remove their monopoly, they must still address the threat of competition from UK and Australian ABSs – with internet based business models – entering their well-protected markets.[294]

It is clear that the accelerated globalization of legal services by ABSs and technology is decreasing the relevance of geographical boundaries. ABSs can arguably open the world to legal service providers. The UK reforms were about putting the consumer at the heart of the relationship, and about prioritizing the needs of the consumer, improving the cost and access to regulated legal services – apparently this may also include the consumers of legal services in protectionist jurisdictions like Canada and the U.S. via the internet:[295]

“But far beyond just competing in one (the U.S.) or two [Canada] or three (the U.K.) countries, ABS structures can arguably open the world to legal services providers.

In offering multinational, if not worldwide, legal services from a U.K. regulated ABS, LegalZoom … expect[s] to benefit from a tradition of export of law and legal services, together with a regulatory environment that promotes and supports such export, and the favorable reputation and high standing in which U.K. law and its legal service providers are generally held. …

“Law has been globalized for large corporations for quite some time now, of course. What you see now is that law is also becoming globalized for small businesses and even individuals. And what is driving this change is IT. Firms now have the ability to harness IT in order to deliver legal services over the Internet to anyone in the world. …

 “The changes to the U.K. rules have been much discussed in relation to big, international practices, but where they will be a true game changer is for small, domestic U.S. [and Canadian] legal practices” … “It will take time—a few years at least—for it to all come together, but as things stand, it will happen and it will be a game changer … In the U.S. [and Canada], it is the consumer and small-business market rather than the large-firm market that is more vulnerable to the U.K. rules, as consumers and small businesses are used to getting all sorts of services over the Internet, and they are not impressed by heavy-hitting law firm partners or fancy offices. They just want less-expensive, quality legal services.”

Both “businesses and private individuals are increasingly willing to use the legal services of firms other than traditional law firms. More than half of all in-house legal departments now consider buying legal services from online providers such as LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer and LawDepot”.[296]

The biggest push has been outside the U.S. to date. But there are many observers who think that the moat that the U.S. legal industry has built around itself isn’t impenetrable, and that corporations with real money will begin voting with their dollars for a new regime.

– David Curle, Why Size Matters: Big Four Accounting Firms Poised to Move In[297]

https://www.chat-quiberon.com/2024/01/18/1e27z82n (e) Regulation, Not Prohibition: ABSs and Entity Regulation

Regulation is a complex phenomenon both conceptually and pragmatically, and the ethical and political stakes are high.

However, although there are legitimate concerns about risks of ABS firms (non-lawyer ownership and investment, etc.), without evidential support, a blanket ban by the legal profession in Canada and the U.S. appears to reflect – at best – a cultural conservative scepticism that entity (i.e. firm) regulation can temper that risk. Based on the UK and Australian experience to date, it is clear that the potential for conflicts of interest and other issues justifies regulation, not prohibition.[298]

The experience in the U.K. and Australia appear to show the advent of ABS has not caused the public more harm than the poorly regulated bar prior to 2007 and 1994 respectively.  In some respects, may have jolted the legal professions to improvement of client care.

– Lee Kazaki, Past President Ontario Bar Association[299]

For policymakers/regulators in Canada and the U.S., the crucial challenge is to determine whether anti-competitive restrictions are suitable for attaining its stated public interest goal, and not to go beyond what is necessary to achieve that objective. Numerous legal commentators and academics have sounded the alarm that the organized bar and the legal profession’s self-regulators need to rethink the nature and provision of legal services,[300] and the degree and extent to which the “lawyer only” regulatory model actually serves the public interest objective(s).[301]  In particular: [302]

  • Policymakers should be careful to ensure appropriate oversight and constraints of self-regulatory powers against self-interested and anti-competitive behaviour (i.e. economic interests that may be in conflict with fiduciary or ethical duty to regulate in the public interest).
  • Policymakers should be wary of the distorting effects of a conservative approach to certain legal principles (over others) that may render the self-regulated legal professions of both Canada and the U.S. immune to competition laws.
  • Policymakers can enhance oversight by consulting with the applicable Competition Bureau and consumer advocacy groups when administering or surveying self-regulatory powers.
  • The design of regulation in the legal professional services space should not ignore the importance of maintaining competition that encourages lower prices, better service offerings, and long-term innovation.

The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.

–  Peter F. Drucker[303]

In those jurisdictions outside of North America that permit ABSs, it is important to note that the actual ABS firms are “subject to regulations that require them to have systems in place to assure that the solicitor’s professional obligations are met”.[304]  Regulators in the UK and Australia have facilitated ABSs by creating a new regulatory scheme, licensing entities (the firm) as well as individual lawyers. Lawyers are allowed to go into business with non-lawyers as owners or managers of the entity, provided that non-lawyer owners or managers are approved by the Regulator (Solicitors Regulation Authority) as fit and proper to assume the role.[305] As part of the entity regulation component, each law firm, including ABS firms, must designate an officer responsible for ensuring that professional obligations are met (the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice) and an officer responsible for ensuring that sound financial measures and management practices are maintained (the Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration). In addition, any firm wishing to employ a non-lawyer as an owner or manager of an ABS must apply to the regulator for approval, and satisfy the regulator that the individual is fit and proper to assume that role.[306]

Law society elected bencher-managers are practicing lawyers first, and managers a poor second. They are still 19th century institutions, incapable of dealing with 21st century law society problems.

– Ken Chasse[307]

Traditionally regulation in the U.S. and Canada (including licensing, codes of conduct, and discipline) has been aimed at individual lawyers – “law firms large and small were functionally invisible to regulation, and not mentioned in the codes”. This remains the case, more or less, in the United States where individual-focused regulation has proven resilient.  Canada’s overall position is, for now, quite close to that of the U.S. position. Although a few of the law societies do have authority to regulate firms and other entities in which lawyers practice, to date only the Nova Scotia law society has formally embraced entity regulation,[308] while Ontario’s Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) approved recommendations last year asking the Provincial legislature to pass an amendment to the Law Society Act that would allow the LSUC to regulate law firms as an entity.[309] Entity regulation in this respect recognizes that many professional decisions that were once made by an individual lawyer or paralegal are increasingly determined by law firm policies and procedures[310] and firm decision-making processes[311]  – exerting tremendous power and control over the lawyers who work for them.[312]

These steps toward entity regulation of law firms – which is required in its own right – may also bring the legal profession in Canada one step closer to being in a position to address entity regulation of ABSs if – and when – approved. However, based on history, it appears unlikely the organized legal bar in Canada or the U.S. will easily adopt UK or Australian like ABS models on their own – bearing in mind that the UK’s reform “to break up the ‘guild-based’ system” was launched by the government, not the legal profession’s self-regulator.[313]

Internationally, expectations in client service are being transformed by the growth of alternate business structures (ABSs) which permit non-lawyer investment and ownership, and multidisciplinary practices (MDPs) which combine legal services with other professional services.

– Canadian Bar Association, Legal Futures Initiative[314]

Conclusion

The problem for the legal profession and its’ regulators is the perception that they have handcuffed themselves to an anchor that is on the wrong side of history. It’s hard to rationalize the refusal to address regulatory reform when over 70% of the population[315]—including small businesses– cannot afford legal representation due to its excessive cost, and unhappy corporate clients are migrating work away from traditional law firms.[316] Ultimately the legal profession in North America is at a fork in the road – do they continue to protect their monopoly, or throw off protectionism and act in the best interest of the public and build toward the future? The legal profession is notorious for its inability to easily move away from long-standing traditions. In North America – while many law firms may consider new technologies, methodologies and business practices – the legal landscape can hardly be distinguished from itself two or more decades ago.[317]

History demonstrates that lawyers may not be consistently at their best at being their own exclusive regulators. Lawyers tend to look backward to precedent and sideways to existing articulations of law. When lawyers do look forward, their primary task is to predict and guard against risk. These conservative ways of managing have caused the legal profession to manage in reaction to crisis. And even then, the legal profession seeks preservation of the status quo for as long as possible, until societal and economic events impose their own change on the legal profession. Until then, ABSs and NewLaw technological innovations and business models will likely continued to be stymied in the U.S. and Canada – or undermined if not capable of being bluntly stopped as an ‘unauthorized practice of law’.[318]

[I]f lawyer-made ethical rules prohibiting certain business structures impede that provision of legal services—even in a limited way—shouldn’t they be examined and altered to effectuate the profession’s purpose?

– Jayne Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers[319]

Other than “politics”, it is unclear on what relevant basis the legal profession’s regulators can support the continuation of this type of protectionist stance. It is at this junction that the “conflict between the politics of self-interest and the duties of self-regulation come to a head”[320] – there is nothing revolutionary in suggesting that the framework of rules and regulations currently in place may well begin to fracture if regulators do not keep pace with society and the needs and demands of corporate and retail consumers of legal services.[321]

The legal profession’s choice is whether to be engaged in the process of change or to have change imposed by forces of competition, policymakers, technology, societal demand, and economics. Legal services regulation must be modernized in Canada and the U.S. to include ABSs in an evolving legal market, as well as appropriate supporting regulations – similar to the UK – assuring that sound financial, management, and professional practices are maintained within these new legal service delivery structures.[322]

The success of ABS to date [in the UK] indicates that clients are generally not concerned about sourcing their legal services from non-lawyers. Clients still seek quality assurance and efficient delivery. But whether this is achieved via traditional firms or ABS, or even in some cases online solutions, would appear to be of less importance.

– Jonathan Smithers, President, Law Society of England & Wales[323]

Although ABSs are not a panacea, it is a step in the right direction[324] – another tool in the legal services delivery ‘tool belt’. ABSs will allow new entrants to avoid legacy issues such as billable hours; allow lawyers to be true partners with non-lawyers so that they can avoid the negative aspects of lawyer-centric thinking that pervades many traditional firms; provide access to capital to allow for investment in personnel, infrastructure, marketing, and innovative use of technology; in some cases brings currently non-regulated online alternative legal services providers (i.e. LegalZoom in the U.S.) under the control of regulators to provide consumers with additional protection (i.e. think LegalZoom in the UK); and create the possibility of linking legal services to other public-oriented pro-consumer service providers.[325]

UK regulated ABS firms – which now include LegalZoom, DoNotPay, and some U.S. law firms – have the potential to open the legal services market worldwide.[326] Traditional law firms in North America will be competing against a “new beast” who has already been through the changes law firms in the U.S. and Canada will need to make to be successful. The legal profession in North America may not have the luxury to sit back and wait too long to seriously consider ABSs.[327] For those traditional law firms that accept the challenge, they will “eventually stop ceding territory” once they begin to truly “invest in the long game”.[328]  As in any client service business, the winners of the future will be those legal service providers who best respond to the changing needs of clients.[329]

The future of the ‘legal’ market for many firms will not be pure law … Google, AI and assorted alternative legal structures can give clients legal information. The ‘law’ partner of the future will have to be so much more than just a [traditional] lawyer.

– Dr. Bob Murray, principal at Fortinberry  Murray, Australia[330]

Yes, the emergence of “regulated” ABSs will provide more competition for traditional law firms “who are well established in what is an already competitive market place. But providing legal services is not the same as selling baked beans”:[331]

“[M]ost consumers will generally prefer solicitors, given their unique selling point of being trusted advisers. There is an opportunity for those providing legal services to develop new businesses, but there will also be a need to improve the way in which existing services are delivered in order to meet public needs ….

A word of caution. A radical move away from the way legal services are provided now will not necessarily mean success. The legal profession … has long been extremely successful and … successful ABS will not be those firms that look and behave least like traditional law firms; they will be those that demonstrate the most admirable qualities of current practices.”

For our generation, ABS offers developments that are worth getting excited about. Its potential aligns with our aspirations for law as a calling and for legal practice as a modern enterprise – one that is responsive and accessible to the society it serves.

– Douglas Judson, President of Law Students’ Society of Ontario[332]

If the legal professions in Canada and the U.S. fail to take heed and right their course, the profession and self-regulation will become irrelevant.[333] The legal profession’s resistance to change in the U.S. and Canada is not in the best interest of the public or the profession.[334]

 

Eric Sigurdson

 

https://sieterevueltas.net/qq6zzmndhug Endnotes:

[1] Richard Devlin and Ora Morison, Access to Justice and the Ethics and Politics of Alternative Business Structures, 91:3 Canadian Bar Review 483, 2012; David Wiseman, Poverty Law, the Future of Legal Services and Access to Justice: Towards ABS, 3:1 Canadian Journal of Poverty Law 10, 2015.

[2] ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016; Alternative Business Structures Have Had A Transformational Impact in Delivering Legal Services, LawTeacher, 2015; Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016; Gillian K. Hadfield, The Cost of Law: Promoting Access to Justice through the (Un) Corporate Practice of Law, 38 Int’l Rev. L. & Econ. 43, 44 (2014); Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 778–84, 2013; Candace M. Groth, Protecting the Profession Through the Pen: A Proposal for Liberalizing ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4 to Allow Multidisciplinary Firms, 37 Hamline L. Rev. 565, 602, 2014; Renee Newman Knake, Democratizing the Delivery of Legal Services, 73 Ohio St. L.J. 1, 3 (2012); Noel Semple, Access to Justice: Is Legal Services Regulation Blocking the Path?, Scholarship at UWindsor, Faculty of Law Publications, 2013; CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014; James M. McCauley, The Future of the Practice of Law: Can Alternative Business Structures for the Legal Profession Improve Access to Legal Services?, 51 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online, 2016; Jayne Reardon, The Disruption of Alternative Business Structures, 2 Civility.org, April 11, 2017; Noel Semple, Legal Services Regulation in Canada: Plus Ca Change?, Scholarship at UWindsor, Faculty of Law Publications, Spring 2017; Richard Devlin and Ora Morison, Access to Justice and the Ethics and Politics of Alternative Business Structures, 91:3 Canadian Bar Review 483, 2012.

[3] Judith McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016.

[4] CBA Legal Futures initiative, Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; Jeff Gray, Let non-lawyers own law firms: Canadian Bar Association, Globe and Mail, August 14, 2014.

[5] ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States, American Bar Association (American Bar.org), August 2016;

[6] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013. See generally, Laurel S. Terry, The Work of the ABA Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice, in Steven McGarry and Laurel Terry, Multidisciplinary Practices and Partnerships: Lawyers, Consultants, and Clients 2.20 (2002); Robert A. Stein, Multidisciplinary Practices: Prohibit or Regulate?, 84 Minn. L. Rev. 1529, 1532 (2000); ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States, American Bar Association (American Bar.org), August 2016; ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, American Bar Association (AmericanBar.org), April 8, 2016; David B. Wilkins and Maria Jose Esteban, The Reemergence of the Big Four in Law: their rise, transformation, and potential triumph, The Practice (Vol. 2, Issue 2), Harvard Law School: Center on the Legal Profession (thepractice.law.harvard.edu), January 2016 — citing the core values of the legal profession—conflict of interest, independence, and client privilege—in 2000/2001 the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates rejected the recommendation of its own Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice that the Model Rules of Professional Conduct be amended to permit integrated MDPs such as the ‘then’ Big Five’s legal networks. Recently the American Bar Association’s 2020 Commission on the Future of Professional Regulation debated and again rejected a proposal to allow MDPs that would support the ‘now’ Big Four, although in Recommendation #2 suggesting that “continued exploration of alternative business structures (ABS) will be useful, and where ABS is allowed, evidence and data regarding the risks and benefits associated with these entities should be developed and assessed”.  Also see, Reid Trautz, Will Alternative Business Structures Fly?, Attorney at Work.com (U.S.), September 27, 2016:

“What’s the Solution?

So will the profession change the rules and allow ABSs? We live in a state-bar world. There are 51 jurisdictions regulating lawyers. That means 51 different regulatory systems creating 51 ABS ownership variations. That means 51 state bar decisions on whether or not to allow ABSs followed by 51 decisions by state supreme courts or legislatures. With most state bars led by solo and small-firm lawyers, it will take years for the states to decide these issues.

While the legal profession ignores or defers the issue, unauthorized forms of ABSs will quietly infiltrate the market. These businesses — backed by non-lawyer investors — are already delivering legal services. While most lawyers can easily name one or two of these companies, there are hundreds more in development. If our profession can’t find the time to decide whether or not to allow ABSs, how are we going to unite to fight these unauthorized businesses?

The solution lies in simultaneously allowing ABSs, while expanding regulation to all legal services providers. That is the only way to expand the delivery of legal services, protect consumers, and maintain the integrity of the legal profession.

We need to address it now. To do nothing would leave lawyers at a huge competitive disadvantage and fundamentally change the legal profession as we know it today — and that’s just what non-lawyers are hoping we do.”

[7] Richard Devlin and Ora Morison, Access to Justice and the Ethics and Politics of Alternative Business Structures, 91:3 Canadian Bar Review 483, 2012.

[8] Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015; Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; International Bar Association, ‘Times are a-changin’: disruptive innovation and the legal profession, IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit, May 2016; Law Society of England and Wales, The Future of Legal Services, January 2016; ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States, August 2016; Russell Engler, Connecting Self-Representation to Civil Gideon: What Existing Data Reveal about when Counsel is Most Needed, 2010, 37 Fordham Urban L.J. 37 (citing Legal Services Corporation, Documenting the Justice Gap in America: The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low Income Americans, updated report (Washington, D.C.: Legal Services Corporation, September 2009); Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, Access to Civil and Family Justice: A Roadmap for Change, 2013; Dr. George Beaton, 10 reasons BigLaw managing partners are not sleeping very well, Beaton Capital, August 15, 2015.  [Lawyers are increasingly unaffordable to most individuals: Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet.  Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length.  Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems. Increasingly, these needs are being addressed by providers outside the legal profession, including those within the early resolution services sector. Sophisticated corporate clients are demanding delivery of quality legal services more efficiently and at less cost. The power balance between lawyers and their corporate clients has shifted, intensifying price-down pressure on law firms, in particular BigLaw.]

[9]  Mary E. Juetten, How can technology solve our access to justice crisis?, ABA Journal, September 8, 2017. Also see, Malcolm Mercer, Being in Favour of Reform, Just Not Change, Slaw, February 26, 2014 (“Should we care about the 85% of legal needs that are not addressed by lawyers? … The next question is why are lawyers used for less than 15% of legal needs?”); Jayne Reardon, Embrace a New Law Model to Better Serve Public and Lawyers, 2 Civility.org, November 29, 2016 (“Many studies over the last few decades reveal that an increasing segment of the population, primarily low and moderate income Americans, are not accessing legal services.  For only one example, Deborah Rhode documents in her research that “[a]ccording to most estimates, about four-fifths of the civil legal needs of the poor, and two- to three-fifths of the needs of middle-income individuals, remain unmet.”); Dr. George Beaton, 10 reasons BigLaw managing partners are not sleeping very well, Beaton Capital, August 15, 2015 (Lawyers are increasingly unaffordable to most individuals: Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet.  Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length.  Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems. Increasingly, these needs are being addressed by providers outside the legal profession, including those within the early resolution services sector.); Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015:

“Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. Nearly 12 million Canadians will experience at least one legal problem in a given three-year period, yet few will have the resources to solve them. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet. We all know that unresolved legal problems adversely affect people’s lives and, ultimately, the public purse. Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length. Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems, and legal problems tend to lead to problems of other types, such as health issues.”

[10] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015; Chris Pierce-Wright, Report: The Unmet Legal Needs of America’s Small Business Community, Insight: Center for Community Economic Development, August 2015 (“With legal fees that price out most of the country’s businesses and individuals, necessity dictates that small businesses and community organizations either look elsewhere for legal support or forego it altogether”). Also see, Improving access – tackling unmet legal needs: Risk Outlook update, Solicitors Regulation Authority, June 2017; Malcolm Mercer, Access to Justice Needs Access to Research, Slaw, January 19, 2017; Laurel A. Rigertas, Stratification of the Legal Profession: A Debate in Need of A Public Forum, J. Prof. Law. 79, 2012.

[11] Mark Cohen, Global Legal Tech is Transforming Service Delivery, Forbes, August 29, 2017;  Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Altman Weil, Law Firms in Transition 2017: An Altman Weil Flash Survey (“Two-thirds of firms report losing business to corporate law department insourcing”; “19%” losing business to “non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services”); Altman Weil, Law Firms in Transition 2016: An Altman Weil Flash Survey (“68% of law firms report they are losing business to corporate law departments”; “19% of law firms report they are losing business to non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services”); Mark Cohen and Liam Brown, New Players driving value for legal departments, CBA National, October 2, 2017; ALM Intelligence and Morrison & Foerster, General Counsel Up-At-Night Report, 2017 (73% of legal work is performed in-house).

[12] Tabby Kinder, Boutiques will benefit from Brexit as big firms struggle to future-proof, The Lawyer, February 22, 2017. Also see, Isobel Lee, Dentons enters Netherlands through Boekel Merger, Property EU, March 2, 2017; Staci Zaretsky, The Global 100: The Richest Law Firms in the World (2016), Above the Law, September 26, 2016; Debra Cassens Weiss, Latham’s revenue in 2016 is the highest ever for a law firm; equity partner profits top $3M, ABA Journal, February 24, 2017; Chris Johnson, Latham has another Outstanding Year, with Revenue surpassing $2.8B, American Lawyer, February 23, 2017; Anthony Lin, The Rise of the Megafirm, ABA Journal, September 1, 2015. Also see, Eric Sigurdson, The Global Corporate Legal Market: Rise of the Big Four Accounting Firms as an alternative legal services delivery model – from ‘multidisciplinary’ professional service firms to ‘globally integrated’ business solution providers, Sigurdson Post, March 27, 2017.

[13] See, Eric Sigurdson, The Global Corporate Legal Market: Rise of the Big Four Accounting Firms as an alternative legal services delivery model – from ‘multidisciplinary’ professional service firms to ‘globally integrated’ business solution providers, Sigurdson Post, March 27, 2017; Dan Bindman, Report: ‘huge unmet legal need for unbundled services across the board’, Legal Futures.co.uk, September 6, 2017; Daniel Fish, Are There Too Many Lawyers?: With students graduating in record numbers into a stagnant job market, the answer must be yes, right? Not even close, Precedent JD, September 6, 2017.

[14] Va. State Bar, Report: The Committee on the Future of Law Practice 13 (Sept. 24, 2016) [http://www.vsb.org/docs/FINAL_Report_of_the_Study_Committee.pdf]; The Future of Legal Services, Law Society of England and Wales, January 2016; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014; Andrew Grech and Tahlia Gordon, Should Non-Lawyer Ownership be Endorsed and Encouraged?, Georgetown Law Center For the Study of the Legal Profession, May 2015; Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015. Also see, Benjamin H. Barton, The Lawyer’s Monopoly—What Goes and What Stays, 82 Fordham L. Rev. 3067 (2014); J. Flood, Will There Be Fallout from Clementi? The Global Repercussions for the Legal Profession After the UK Legal Services Act 2007, 2012 Mich St. L. Rev. 537; Elizabeth Raymer, Resolving Disputes online, Canadian Lawyer.com, October 2, 2017; Andrew Ottaway, Online Dispute Resolution is Coming: Are We Ready?, Just, OBA.org, August 18, 2017; James Dartnell, DIFC Courts CEO Mark Beer: legal industry desperately needs IT transformation, tahawul tech.com, October 15, 2017.

[15] Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016:

“In the United States, LegalZoom has to carefully moderate its business model to avoid running afoul of unauthorized practice of law concerns. In small print at the bottom of what appears to be every page is the following disclaimer:

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

This disclaimer is essential to maneuver around unauthorized practice requirements in the United States. A few states have challenged the LegalZoom service, but have succeeded primarily in assuring this disclaimer. The claim that they do not provide “any kind of advice, explanation, opinion or recommendation” is a legal fiction. It is hard to envision how a robust online body of legal documents, along with computer guided questions that tailor the documents to the users’ goals, can be developed without a functional legal analysis and recommendation embedded in it. In anticipation of a public offering, LegalZoom filed an extensive SEC Registration Statement in 2012. It devoted a full page in large font to declare that “[e]veryone deserves access to quality legal services so they can benefit from the full protection of the law.” In LegalZoom’s own framing, it provides legal services for purposes of SEC filings, but not legal services for purposes of unauthorized practice of law statutes.

The acceptance of this legal fiction is not surprising. A broad interpretation of unauthorized practice statutes is increasingly intellectually indefensible, especially because of a concern that the impetus to exclude others is motivated by a desire to give lawyers a competitive advantage. Readily available information on the internet and other online resources makes consumers skeptical of a claim that legal documents cannot be delivered in a cost effective manner for routine matters.”

[16] Elliott Krause, This Robot Will Handle Your Divorce Free of Charge, Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2017; George Khory, Will the Divorce Chatbot Steal Your Clients?, Technologist (Findlaw.com), October 31, 2017; William Vogeler, Chatbox Opens Up 1,000 Practice Areas, Technologist (Findlaw.com), July 19, 2017 (“Now his bot, DoNotPay, is opening up 1,000 legal areas. That might trouble some lawyers, but Browder is also offering the program to attorneys”); Neil Rose, Legal Chatbox pioneer receives $1m investment to pursue goal of making access to law free, Legal Futures.co.uk, November 6, 2017:

“DoNotPay – the chatbot that aims to make access to the law free – has received $1.1m (£840,000) in backing from leading Silicon Valley investors, and even some lawyers. …

Mr Browder, currently a student at Stanford University in the US, said the money would be used to tackle more complicated areas of the law. “Divorce, immigration, small claims, property tax and more corporate takedowns are on their way, and perhaps the last app that everyone downloads is the one that solves all of their problems for free.”

He continued: “I am not doing this to make any money whatsoever. As part of the funding (and all future financings), I will take a $1 salary until the law is free for everyone in America [and the UK].

“Of course, we are a long way from that goal, but I hope that DoNotPay will ultimately give everyone the same legal power as the richest in society.”

In July, Mr Browder announced that he was working on an ambitious plan to automate the divorce process with the assistance of a team of salaried paralegals, having also launched 1,000 legal chatbots covering simple legal forms in the US and the UK – including consumer and workplace rights matters ranging from maternity leave to landlord contract violations.”

[17] Kai Jacob, Dierk Schindler, Roger Strathausen (editors), Liquid Legal: Transforming Legal into a Business Savvy, Information Enabled and Performance Driven Industry, Springer International Publishing, 2017; Richard Susskind, The End of Lawyers: Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services, Oxford University Press, 2008; Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to your Future, Oxford University Press, 2013; Mark Cohen, Postcards from Europe; Part 1: London, Forbes, October 9, 2017; Forces of change in legal marketplace too powerful for Magic Circle to avoid, Global Legal Post, October 11, 2017.

[18] The Case Against Clones, The Economist, February 2, 2013.

[19] Clifford Winston, Robert Crandall, Vikram Maheshri, First Thing We Do, Let’s Deregulate All the Lawyers, Brookings Institution Press, 2011

[20] Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016:

“A broad interpretation of unauthorized practice statutes is increasingly intellectually indefensible, especially because of a concern that the impetus to exclude others is motivated by a desire to give lawyers a competitive advantage.”

Also see for example only: Victor Li, Avvo, LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer CEOs say their products help bridge access-to-justice gap, ABA Journal, March 17, 2017 (“While all three CEOs have frequently faced questions about regulations governing the unauthorized practice of law, the trio did not use the Techshow stage to rage about the issue, or about regulations in general”); Richard Granat, North Carolina Restricts the Distribution of Legal Self-Help Software to Consumers, eLawyering Blog, July 12, 2016; Joan Rogers, N.C. Law Regulates LegalZoom, Other Legal Doc Providers, Bloomberg Law, July 26, 2016; Robert Amrogi, Latest legal victory has LegalZoom poised for growth, ABA Journal, August 1, 2014; George Leef, Why the Legal Profession Says LegalZoom is Illegal, Forbes, October 14, 2014; Mary Jutten, Technology and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Law Technology Today, June 12, 2015.

[21] Professor Johnathan T. Molot, What’s Wrong with Law Firms? A Corporate Finance Solution to Law Firm Short-Termism, Southern California Law Review 2015. Also see, Ralph Baxter, Looking at the Law Firm Partnership Model and How to Fix it, Thomson Reuters, February 25, 2015; Jeff Gray, Let non-lawyers own law firms: Canadian Bar Association, Globe and Mail, August 14, 2014:

“As the legal profession grapples with changes driven by new technology and global competition, a new report from the Canadian Bar Association calls for radical revisions to the rules that govern lawyers, including scrapping the current regime that prohibits most non-lawyer ownership of law firms. …

Citing the surprising collapse of law firm Heenan Blaikie LLP earlier this year without mentioning the firm’s name, the report outlines a number of problems with the partnership structure that currently dominates the legal business.

“The recent decline and demise of long-standing Canadian legal partnerships suggests that more research may be required on if and how the partnership model can be viable in the future,” the report reads.

The report says partnerships result in a lack of investment in innovation, since they tend to distribute profits to partners instead of retaining them for research, and a lack of “non-lawyer business professionals in management.”

[22] Related to this main concern are additional motivations such as the protection of the effective administration of justice, the fact that only lawyers are subject to special ethical regulations and a system of professional discipline, and a minimization of competitive practices among lawyers. See, Matthew Longobardi, Unauthorized Practice of Law and Meaningful Access to the Courts: Is Law Too Important to be Left to Lawyers?, 35 Cardozo Law Review 2043, 2014; Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015; Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999; Deborah L. Rhode, Policing the Professional Monopoly: A Constitutional and Empirical Analysis of Unauthorized Practice Prohibitions, 34 Stanford Law Review 1, 1981.

[23] Neil Rickman and James Anderson, Innovations in the Provision of Legal Services in the United States: An Overview for Policymakers, Kauffman-Rand Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy, 2011. Also see, Laurel Terry, The European Commission Project Regarding Competition in Professional Services, 29 Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business 1, 2009; Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015; Honourable Wayne Martin (Chief Justice of Western Australia), The Future of Regulation the Legal Profession: Is the Profession Over Regulated?, Conference of Regulatory Officers (Perth, Western Australia), September 16, 2009; Honourable JJ. Spigelman, AC, Are Lawyers Lemons?: Competition Principles and Professional Regulation, 2003 ALJ 44; Paul Patton, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Future of Self-Regulation—Canada between the United States and the English /Australian Experience, ABA Journal of the Professional Lawyer, 2008; Robert W. Gordon, Can Lawyers’ Professional Values Be Saved? Are They Worth Saving? cited in Chief Justice of Ontario Advisory Committee on Professionalism, Working Group on the Definition of Professionalism, Elements of Professionalism (October 2001); Robert W. Gordon, Portrait of a Profession in Paralysis, 54 Stan. L. Rev 1427 (2002); Robert W. Gordon, The Independence of Lawyers, 68 B.U. L. Rev. 1 (1988).

[24] Alice Woolley, Bencher Elections – the Challenge to Self-Regulations Legitimacy, Slaw, April 30, 2015.

[25] Mark Cohen, Goodbye Guild – Law’s Changing Culture, Forbes, July 3, 2017. Also see, Benjamin H. Barton and Stephanos Bibas, Rebooting Justice: More Technology, Fewer Lawyers and the Future of Law, Encounter Books, 2017; Deborah L. Rhode, Policing the Professional Monopoly: A Constitutional and Empirical Analysis of Unauthorized Practice Prohibitions, 34 Stanford Law Review 1 , 1981 (stating that if enforcement of UPL rules are in the public’s interest “the public has remained curiously unsupportive of the war effort”); Matthew Longobardi, Unauthorized Practice of Law and Meaningful Access to the Courts: Is Law Too Important to be Left to Lawyers?, 35 Cardozo Law Review 2043, 2014; Laurel A. Rigertas, The Legal Profession’s Monopoly: Failing to Protect Consumers, 82 Fordham Law Review 2683, 2014; Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016; Mary Jutten, Technology and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Law Technology Today, June 12, 2015; Malcolm Mercer, Utopia, Dystopia and Alternative Business Structures, Slaw, November 11, 2013:

“[P]rotectionism … is rarely, if ever, expressly stated. Lawyers, like everyone else, fear change that could adversely affect them. This fear of adverse consequences of course gets dressed up as something else; sometimes consciously and sometimes not.”

[26] Jonathan Knee, Review: In ‘Rebooting Justice’, a Call to Help the Lawyerless in Court, New York Times, July 31, 2017. Also see, Benjamin H. Barton and Stephanos Bibas, Rebooting Justice: More Technology, Fewer Lawyers and the Future of Law, Encounter Books, 2017.

[27] Mary Jutten, Technology and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Law Technology Today, June 12, 2015. For example see, Gabrielle Orum Hernandez, The DoNotPay Dilemma: Can Chatbots Provide Access to Justice Without a Lawyer?, Law.com, July 17, 2017; David Gialanella, Avvo, LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer Declared Off-Limits, Law.com, June 22, 2017; George Conk, Avvo, Rocket Lawyer, LegalZoom Blocked by New Jersy Supreme Court Ethics Committees, Contemporary Professional Responsibility, June 22, 2017; Robert Ambrogi, Latest legal victory has LegalZoom poised for growth, ABA Journal, August 1, 2014 (ie. “In recent years, LegalZoom has faced lawsuits in eight states seeking to shut it down for violating state laws barring the unauthorized practice of law. But with a notable recent victory in South Carolina, and having fended off all but one of the other lawsuits, LegalZoom is anything but shutting down”); Karen Rubin, LegalZoom: unauthorized practice? Or new legal services model?, Lexology, August 14, 2014; Mary Juetten and Billie Tarascio, Technology and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Law Technology Today, June 12, 2015; Caroline Brown, LegalZoom: Closing the Justice Gap or Unauthorized Practice of Law?, North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology, May 2016; Neil Rose, The Foul Stench of Protectionism, Legal Futures, September 29, 2015. Also see, Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016:

“In the United States, LegalZoom has to carefully moderate its business model to avoid running afoul of unauthorized practice of law concerns. In small print at the bottom of what appears to be every page is the following disclaimer:

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

This disclaimer is essential to maneuver around unauthorized practice requirements in the United States. A few states have challenged the LegalZoom service, but have succeeded primarily in assuring this disclaimer. The claim that they do not provide “any kind of advice, explanation, opinion or recommendation” is a legal fiction. It is hard to envision how a robust online body of legal documents, along with computer guided questions that tailor the documents to the users’ goals, can be developed without a functional legal analysis and recommendation embedded in it. In anticipation of a public offering, LegalZoom filed an extensive SEC Registration Statement in 2012. It devoted a full page in large font to declare that “[e]veryone deserves access to quality legal services so they can benefit from the full protection of the law.” In LegalZoom’s own framing, it provides legal services for purposes of SEC filings, but not legal services for purposes of unauthorized practice of law statutes.

The acceptance of this legal fiction is not surprising. A broad interpretation of unauthorized practice statutes is increasingly intellectually indefensible, especially because of a concern that the impetus to exclude others is motivated by a desire to give lawyers a competitive advantage. Readily available information on the internet and other online resources makes consumers skeptical of a claim that legal documents cannot be delivered in a cost effective manner for routine matters.”

Neil Rose, Here come the Americans: LegalZoom gains ABS licence, Legal Futures.co.uk, January 7, 2015; Aron Solomon and Jason Moyse, Let the robots help the public, Canadian Lawyer, September 5, 2016:

“It’s always surprising to find that Canadians are not overly familiar with LegalZoom. While this company offers some services in Canada under an obvious rebrand of a prior existing Canadian business, its more compelling footprint is in the U.S. and, increasingly, England.

In large part through the use of automation technology, LegalZoom helps users create legal documents for personal and business purposes. Consumer services relate to wills, divorce, prenuptial agreements, personal bankruptcy, immigration, disability benefits, personal injury and real estate documents. For business services, mostly to small and medium-sized entities, LegalZoom assists with incorporation documents, tax forms, licences, corporate changes and filings, real estate transactions, trademarks, patents, copyrights and business compliance.

If you lived in the U.S., chances are you know LegalZoom, perhaps as a consumer, but certainly as a lawyer.

The statistics are staggering and impossible to ignore. Information is not always readily available, but 2011 court documents indicated two million customers at that time, which has undoubtedly grown.

That same year, in the state of California, 20 per cent of all newly formed limited-liability corporations utilized LegalZoom.

The legal battles for and against LegalZoom have been well documented. Most famously, the North Carolina bar claimed the company was conducting the unauthorized practice of law. LegalZoom filed a US$10.5-million anti-trust suit, which was settled based on conditions that the company was largely already following.”

[28] Jonathan Knee, Review: In ‘Rebooting Justice’, a Call to Help the Lawyerless in Court, New York Times, July 31, 2017. Also see, Benjamin H. Barton and Stephanos Bibas, Rebooting Justice: More Technology, Fewer Lawyers and the Future of Law, Encounter Books, 2017.

[29] Neil Rose, Legal Chatbox pioneer receives $1m investment to pursue goal of making access to law free, Legal Futures.co.uk, November 6, 2017:

“DoNotPay – the chatbot that aims to make access to the law free – has received $1.1m (£840,000) in backing from leading Silicon Valley investors, and even some lawyers. …

Mr Browder, currently a student at Stanford University in the US, said the money would be used to tackle more complicated areas of the law. “Divorce, immigration, small claims, property tax and more corporate takedowns are on their way, and perhaps the last app that everyone downloads is the one that solves all of their problems for free.”

He continued: “I am not doing this to make any money whatsoever. As part of the funding (and all future financings), I will take a $1 salary until the law is free for everyone in America [and the UK].

“Of course, we are a long way from that goal, but I hope that DoNotPay will ultimately give everyone the same legal power as the richest in society.”

In July, Mr Browder announced that he was working on an ambitious plan to automate the divorce process with the assistance of a team of salaried paralegals, having also launched 1,000 legal chatbots covering simple legal forms in the US and the UK – including consumer and workplace rights matters ranging from maternity leave to landlord contract violations.”

Also see, William Vogeler, Chatbox Opens Up 1,000 Practice Areas, Technologist (Findlaw.com), July 19, 2017 (“Now his bot, DoNotPay, is opening up 1,000 legal areas. That might trouble some lawyers, but Browder is also offering the program to attorneys”); John Mannes, DoNotPay launches 1,000 new bots to help you with your legal problems, Tech Crunch.com, July 12, 2007:

“Since making headlines last year with his DoNotPay chatbot to help people fight their parking tickets, 19-year-old Joshua Browder has been heads-down building in new capabilities on his quest to democratize legal help by automating as many common legal needs as possible. Today, Browder is pushing out 1,000 new bots that can assist people in filling out transactional legal forms in all 50 U.S. states and the U.K.

As Browder slowly added new capabilities to his initial DoNotPay bot, many early users started to become confused about what the tool could actually be used for. It’s for this reason that he decided to hold back and release as many legal assistance features as possible at one time to rebrand as a full-service consumer legal tool.

With today’s launch, DoNotPay can help anyone fill out transactional forms for maternity leave, landlord contract violations and more. The 1,000+ bots are fully searchable in natural language — users simply state the problem they are trying to solve and DoNotPay will automatically redirect them to the relevant assistant.

Browder had to take into account the sheer number of sub-forms and regional differences in law when building the tool. DoNotPay can automatically verify your location and feed you the relevant information for your area.”

[30] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017.

[31] Michael Rynowecer, Exactly When, Where and How the Big 4 Will Steal Your Firm’s Best Clients, LinkedIn, October 5, 2017. Also see, Stephen Poor, Big Four vs. BigLaw: The Race to Change Legal Services Delivery, Big Law Business.com, October 5, 2017.

[32] New types of service and service providers are now available to lawyers (i.e. legal technology to practice more efficiently: ‘better, faster, cheaper’, and substitute/reduce need for lawyers), corporate clients (i.e. NewLaw firms and outsourcers, contract lawyers/legal staffing – embedded and outsourced, managed legal services), and retail clients (i.e. non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services: online technology for clients to conduct own legal matters, resolve disputes directly). See, for example, Dr. George Beaton, Fresh Thinking on the evolving BigLaw – NewLaw taxonomy, Beaton Capital.com, January 15, 2015; Jordan Furlong, An incomplete inventory of NewLaw, Law21.ca, May 13, 2014; Jason Gregory, Big law vs. new law: brash startups are shaking up the legal market in Australia, a look at what happens when ABS takes root, CBA National, Winter 2015; George Beaton and Imme Kaschner, Remaking Law Firms: Why and How, 2016.

Including the following:

  • Contract lawyers: Self-employed, independent lawyers engaged for short periods or a fixed term to provide flexible project support or fill an absentee position.
  • Document review services: Outsourced organisations which review high volumes of legal documents at a lower cost, sometimes by non-legally trained individuals (often used in litigation or due diligence).
  • Managed legal services: Contracting out all or part of the function of an in-house legal team to an independent legal provider.
  • Online legal services: Standardized legal documents and services available only online. (i.e. LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, Do Not Pay, Fixed, Resolve Your Dispute, etc).
  • Legal consultancy: Independent consultants who advise on the management and operation of a legal department or the structuring of a large piece of work.
  • Hybrid legal solutions: Collaboration between two or more of the above providers often combined with process and technology innovations.

[33] Mark Cohen, Postcard from Europe; Part 2: Germany and The Netherlands, Forbes, October 16, 2017; Mark Cohen, When Good is Good Enough: Finding the Appropriate Legal Delivery Resources, Forbes, August 3, 2017; Mark Cohen, Who Will Train Tomorrow’s Lawyers and How Will they Learn?, Forbes, September 25, 2017; Mark Cohen and Liam Brown, New Players driving value for legal departments, CBA National, October 2, 2017; Mark Cohen, The Legal Industry Needs Fresh Leadership with New Skill Sets, Forbes, September 18, 2017; Mark Cohen, Global Legal Tech is Transforming Service Delivery, Forbes, August 29, 2017; Mark Cohen, Legal Buyers Taking Charge: ‘The GC Thought Leaders Experiment’ and Beyond, Forbes, July 17, 2017.

[34] Charlotte Rushton, Three ways the legal world is changing, Thomson Reuters, October 28, 2016.

[35] PwC’s new US law firm heightens fears, Financial Review, October 12, 2017.

[36] Richard Devlin and Ora Morison, Access to Justice and the Ethics and Politics of Alternative Business Structures, 91:3 Canadian Bar Review 483, 2012; Judith McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016; David Wiseman, Poverty Law, the Future of Legal Services and Access to Justice: Towards ABS, 3:1 Canadian Journal of Poverty Law 10, 2015.

[37] Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015.

[38] Richard Devlin and Ora Morison, Access to Justice and the Ethics and Politics of Alternative Business Structures, 91:3 Canadian Bar Review 483, 2012; David Wiseman, Poverty Law, the Future of Legal Services and Access to Justice: Towards ABS, 3:1 Canadian Journal of Poverty Law 10, 2015.

[39] Judith McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016.

[40] Judith McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016.

[41] Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015. Also see, Jakob Weberstaedt, English Alternative Business Structures and the European single market, 21 International Journal of the Legal Profession, 2014.

[42] Judith McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016.

[43] See for example, Jakob Weberstaedt, English Alternative Business Structures and the European single market, 21 International Journal of the Legal Profession, 2014.

[44] Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015

[45] Gavin and Brooke MacKenzie, Should lawyers have a monopoly over the provision of legal services?, CBA National, Winter 2016. Also see, Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015.

[46] Yves Faguy, The next generation on the future of law, CBA National, January 9, 2015.

[47] Mary E. Juetten, How can technology solve our access to justice crisis?, ABA Journal, September 8, 2017. Also see, Malcolm Mercer, Being in Favour of Reform, Just Not Change, Slaw, February 26, 2014 (“Should we care about the 85% of legal needs that are not addressed by lawyers? … The next question is why are lawyers used for less than 15% of legal needs?”); Jayne Reardon, Embrace a New Law Model to Better Serve Public and Lawyers, 2 Civility.org, November 29, 2016 (“Many studies over the last few decades reveal that an increasing segment of the population, primarily low and moderate income Americans, are not accessing legal services.  For only one example, Deborah Rhode documents in her research that “[a]ccording to most estimates, about four-fifths of the civil legal needs of the poor, and two- to three-fifths of the needs of middle-income individuals, remain unmet.”); Dr. George Beaton, 10 reasons BigLaw managing partners are not sleeping very well, Beaton Capital, August 15, 2015 (Lawyers are increasingly unaffordable to most individuals: Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet.  Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length.  Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems. Increasingly, these needs are being addressed by providers outside the legal profession, including those within the early resolution services sector.); Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015:

“Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. Nearly 12 million Canadians will experience at least one legal problem in a given three-year period, yet few will have the resources to solve them. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet. We all know that unresolved legal problems adversely affect people’s lives and, ultimately, the public purse. Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length. Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems, and legal problems tend to lead to problems of other types, such as health issues.”

Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015; Chris Pierce-Wright, Report: The Unmet Legal Needs of America’s Small Business Community, Insight: Center for Community Economic Development, August 2015 (“With legal fees that price out most of the country’s businesses and individuals, necessity dictates that small businesses and community organizations either look elsewhere for legal support or forego it altogether”). Also see, Improving access – tackling unmet legal needs: Risk Outlook update, Solicitors Regulation Authority, June 2017; Malcolm Mercer, Access to Justice Needs Access to Research, Slaw, January 19, 2017; Laurel A. Rigertas, Stratification of the Legal Profession: A Debate in Need of A Public Forum, J. Prof. Law. 79, 2012.

[48] Mark Cohen, Global Legal Tech is Transforming Service Delivery, Forbes, August 29, 2017; Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Altman Weil, Law Firms in Transition 2017: An Altman Weil Flash Survey (“Two-thirds of firms report losing business to corporate law department insourcing”; “19%” losing business to “non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services”); Altman Weil, Law Firms in Transition 2016: An Altman Weil Flash Survey (“68% of law firms report they are losing business to corporate law departments”; “19% of law firms report they are losing business to non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services”); Mark Cohen and Liam Brown, New Players driving value for legal departments, CBA National, October 2, 2017; ALM Intelligence and Morrison & Foerster, General Counsel Up-At-Night Report, 2017 (73% of legal work is performed in-house).

[49] Judith McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016.

 [50] Professor Mari Sako, An Overview of Alternative Business Structures in England and Wales, Georgetown Law Conference, April 24, 2015.

[51] Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015.

[52] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013.

[53] CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014.

[54] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777. Also see, ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 7-9; Gillian Hadfield, The Cost of Law: Promoting Access to Justice through the (un)Corporate Practice of Law, 38 International Review of Law and Economics 43, 2014; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014; CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014; Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015.

[55] Jonathan Smithers, Evolution of legal services: The impact of ABS in England & Wales, CBA National, October 26, 2015; Alternative Business Structures Have Had A Transformational Impact in Delivering Legal Services, LawTeacher, 2015.

[56] Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015. Also see, Bob Goodman and Josh Harder, Four Areas of Legal Ripe for disruption by Smart Startups, Law Technology Today, December 16, 2014:

“In 50 years, the customer experience at most law firms has barely changed. If you needed legal advice in the ‘60s, you generally went to a nice building and met a lawyer in a suit who would then review your issue, conduct research, and bill you an hourly rate. But even with today’s modern communication tools, both customer experience and lawyer workflow have remained stagnant”.

[57] Nick Robinson, When Lawyers Don’t Get All the Profits: Non-Lawyer Ownership of Legal Services, Access and Professionalism, August 27, 2014, HLS Program on the Legal Profession Research Paper No. 2014-20, online at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2487878.

[58] Reid Trautz, Will Alternative Business Structures Fly?, Attorney at Work.com (U.S.), September 27, 2016.

[59] Stephen Mayson, External ownership and the forked tongue of ethics, StephenMayson.com (UK), May 2012.

[60] Alternative Business Structures Have Had A Transformational Impact in Delivering Legal Services, LawTeacher, 2015.

[61] Jonathan Smithers, Evolution of legal services: The impact of ABS in England & Wales, CBA National, October 26, 2015; Alternative Business Structures Have Had A Transformational Impact in Delivering Legal Services, LawTeacher, 2015.

[62] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013 (discussing the ways incorporation and a capital advantage open the door to possibilities that might otherwise be too risky, such as “large-scale corporate law firm mergers,” issuing shares to lawyers yet to make partner to align their interest with the firm’s interest, and poaching already successful partners at other firms); Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014:

“Lawyers in jurisdictions that permit ABS have used technology in some of the following ways:

  • Establishing franchises that provide centralized infrastructure and assistance with marketing and branding strategies, buying power and practice support.
  • Developing systems to better predict the cost of legal services and the suitability of new fixed-fee arrangements for clients in the areas of personal injury, family law and wills.
  • Offering online one-stop-shopping for accident management services, including compensation, repairs, replacement vehicles and rehabilitation.
  • Establishing large, virtual law firms with a roster of consultant lawyers who work from home on a wide variety of private client matters.”

[63] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013; Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Chandler N. Hodge, Law Firms in the U.S.: To Go Public or Not to Go Public?, 34 U. Dayton L. Rev. 79, 2008.

[64] Gavin and Brooke MacKenzie, Should lawyers have a monopoly over the provision of legal services?, CBA National, Winter 2016. Also see, Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015.

[65] Gavin and Brooke MacKenzie, Should lawyers have a monopoly over the provision of legal services?, CBA National, Winter 2016.

[66] Mark Cohen, Postcard from Europe; Part 2: Germany and The Netherlands, Forbes, October 16, 2017.

[67] Donna Kent, Tomorrow’s law firm is already here, Today!, Linkedin, October 9, 2017.

[68] M. Jerry McHale, QC, Deregulation: The Changing Legal Services Landscape, UVicAce.com, May 17, 2016.

[69] Robert Heslett, What alternative business structures mean for the legal profession, The Guardian, June 9, 2010.

[70] Neil Rose, PwC: New business structures and capital will allow big law firms to deliver ‘fundamental change’, Legal Futures.co.uk, October 16, 2017; PwC, 26th Annual Law Firm’s Survey: Time for change – PwC Law Firms’ Survey 2017, PwC.co.uk, 2017.

[71] Neil Rose, PwC: New business structures and capital will allow big law firms to deliver ‘fundamental change’, Legal Futures.co.uk, October 16, 2017; PwC, 26th Annual Law Firm’s Survey: Time for change – PwC Law Firms’ Survey 2017, PwC.co.uk, 2017.

[72] Note: The resistance to some forms of innovation in legal service provision may be related to lawyers’ self-conception and tradition. Lawyers practice in a literally storied profession that emphasizes the independence of the lawyer and the status of the occupation as a profession rather than a business. Some prominent lawyers are appalled and saddened by innovations in the provision of legal services, and the changing role of the lawyer. This tradition has given rise to a unique professional culture – which in Canada and the U.S. includes the right of ‘self-regulation of lawyers’ and strict restrictions on non-lawyer investment and ownership of law firms, alternative business structures (ABS), and multidisciplinary practices (MDP) –  which is not the case, for example, in such jurisdictions as the UK and New South Wales, Australia. It has been used to justify opposition to any perceived threat to the lawyer’s independence; it has also justified a variety of restrictions on who can practice law and how they can do so. Indeed, in other industries, similar restrictions might be considered anticompetitive and illegal. For good or bad, these restrictions, rooted in this tradition, constitute substantial impediments to leadership and innovation for traditional lawyers and law firms in Canada and the U.S..  See, Neil Rickman and James Anderson, Innovations in the Provision of Legal Services in the United States: An Overview for Policymakers, Kauffman-Rand Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy, 2011; Laurel Terry, The European Commission Project Regarding Competition in Professional Services, 29 Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business 1, 2009; Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015; Law Society of England and Wales, Key facts – Regulatory Regime in England and Wales, Lawsociety.org.uk [www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/risk-compliance/regulation/key-facts-regulatory-regime-england-wales/]; Public Policy, Legal Strategy 101: It’s Time for Law Firms to Re-think Their Business Model, Wharton.upenn.edu, April 29, 2009; Australian Law Reform Commission, Australian Government, Ensuring Professional Integrity: Ethical Obligations and Discovery, Alrc.gov.au; Steve Mark, The Regulatory Framework in Australia, ABA 40th Conference on Professional Responsibility: Regulatory Innovation in England and Wales and Australia – What’s in it for Us, May 29, 2014.

[73] International Bar Association, ‘Times are a-changin’: disruptive innovation and the legal profession, IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit, May 2016; Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States, August 2016; Law Society of England and Wales, The Future of Legal Services, January 2016;  Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015; George Beaton and Imme Kaschner, Remaking Law Firms: Why and How, June 7, 2016; Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future, 2013; Deloitte, Future Trends for Legal Services: Global Research Study, June 2016.

[74] PwC, 26th Annual Law Firm’s Survey: Time for change – PwC Law Firms’ Survey 2017, PwC.co.uk, 2017.

[75] Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014. Also see: In re Op. No. 26 of the Comm. on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, 654 A.2d 1344, 1360–61 (N.J. 1995); Laurel A. Rigertas, The Legal Profession’s Monopoly: Failing to Protect Consumers, 82 Fordham Law Review 2683, 2014:

“There is a point at which an institution [regulator] attempting to provide protection to a public that seems clearly, over a long period, not to want it, and perhaps not to need it—there is a point when that institution must wonder whether it is providing protection or imposing its will. It must wonder whether it is helping or hurting the public.”

[76] Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015.

[77] Robert Mysicka, Who Watches the Watchmen? The Role of the Self-Regulator, Commentary No. 416, C.D. Howe Institute, October 2014. Also see, Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999; OECD Policy Roundtables: Competitive Restrictions in Legal Professions, OECD Competition Committee, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007. Also see, Self-Regulated Professions – Balancing Competition and Regulation Report, Competition Bureau.gc.ca, 2007:

“While self-regulation allows for quality standards to be set by professionals who may be better informed than lay public authorities, this advantage may be outweighed by the harm from the potential for anti-competitive restrictions.”

[78] PwC’s new US law firm heightens fears, Financial Review, October 12, 2017.

[79] Buy D10 Valium Online United States: ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 3-4 – District of Columbia (second category of ABS, see endnote #272) and Washington State (first category of ABS, see endnote #272); John Remsen Jr., Law Firm MDPs (Multi-Disciplinary Practices) and New Delivery Models, LinkedIn.com, November 6, 2017 (“In the US – except for the District of Columbia –  non-law firms are prohibited from providing legal services, and non-lawyers are prohibited from law firm ownership.”). https://modaypadel.com/62tjjbi06t Canada: Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014 (In Ontario “licensed lawyers and paralegals in sole practice or in firms owned and controlled by licensed legal professionals may provide legal services in Ontario.”); Jeff Gray, Let non-lawyers own law firms: Canadian Bar Association, Globe and Mail, August 14, 2014 (“Quebec … allows professional corporations practising law to be partly owned by non-lawyers, provided lawyers hold a majority stake.”). Note: The Canadian legal system has its foundation in the English common law system. Quebec is the only province with a civil code, which is based on the French Code Napoléon (Napoleonic Code). The rest of Canada are common law provinces. The main difference between the two systems is that in common law provinces, case law — in the form of published judicial opinions — is of primary importance, whereas in civil law systems, codified statutes predominate. But these divisions are not as clear-cut as they might seem. Alongside both systems is a Federal and Provincial legislature that passes new laws and statutes.

[80] Ontario Canada: CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014 :

Subject to limited MDP rules in some provinces, lawyers may only practise with and share profits with other lawyers. …

Yet currently in Canada (except for Québec), the dominant regulatory paradigm is one in which:

  • only lawyers can provide legal services;
  • practice income can only be shared with other lawyers (Model Rule 3.6-7 of the Model Code); and
  • non-lawyers in law firms must be directly supervised by lawyers (Model Rule 6.1-1 of the Model Code).

In British Columbia and Ontario, limited non-lawyer ownership is permitted in authorized MDPs and non-lawyers providing services to MDP clients may be partners with lawyers. However, those non-legal services must support or supplement the provision of legal services. The current regulatory restrictions create a number of ethical and/or public policy issues:

  • permitting only lawyers to provide legal services may restrict access to justice, especially where there are unmet needs;
  • limiting the definition of legal services to that which is provided by lawyers, when in reality, the preponderance of legal services are provided by non-lawyers;
  • limiting the way legal services are delivered to what might be called the “professional consultancy” model; and
  • offering little choice other than a consultancy model to lawyers who serve individuals and small enterprises. [page 40-41]

John G. Kelly, Alternative Business Structures: ABS Lifeline for small and medium sized Canadian Law Firms, Canada Law from Abroad.com, May 19, 2015:

“The LSUC forayed into multi-disciplinary practice (MDP) arena on the cusp of the 21stcentury and developed a convoluted model that ensured no law firm would seriously entertain becoming an MDP. More recently, it’s released an advisory and guidelines for law firms wanting to pursue an unbundled legal service model that’s got the profession all bundled up in knots. In short, it’s a money- losing proposition …”.

Noel Semple, Access to Justice: Is Legal Services Regulation Blocking the Path?, Scholarship at UWindsor, Faculty of Law Publications, 2013 –  “North American insulating rules include those prohibiting and tightly controlling multidisciplinary practice (MDP) and alternative business structures (e.g. ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, R. 5.4(d)(1); Law Society Act (Ontario) , s. 61.0.1(4))”.

Affiliations and Multi-Disciplinary Partnerships: too onerous, Dynamic Legal Forms.com, February 18, 2009 – “if non-lawyers teamed up with lawyers to support/supplement the latter’s provision of legal services to clients, then the Law Society of Upper Canada’s multi-discipline rules could be triggered. Such rules impose obligations on all of the members of the association. For example, the non-lawyers would:

  • Not be able to practice their profession, trade, or occupation except to support/supplement the lawyer or law firm in providing client services.
  • Have to give effective control to the lawyer or law firm over its practice of its profession, trade, or occupation;
  • Not be able to practice its profession, trade, or occupation independent of its agreement with the lawyer or law practice on the premises used by the association; and
  • Have to agree to be bound by the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Rules, Guidelines, By-Laws, etc.

A multi-disciplinary partnership involves non-lawyers supporting/supplementing lawyers in providing legal services to clients. The non-lawyer members of the partnership would … have to comply with the … onerous conditions as non-lawyer members of a multi-disciplinary association. And so too would the lawyer. …

Overall, if non-lawyers are going to get involved in promoting and delivering legal services, then the Law Society of Upper Canada is going to have to re-tool its Rules and By Laws to open up the market.”

Access to Justice to be enhanced with the delivery of legal services through civil society organizations, Law Society Gazette.ca, September 28, 2017:

“Convocation approved, in principle, a policy to permit lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services through civil society organizations (CSOs), such as charities and not-for-profit organizations.

The policy is intended to enhance access to justice for individuals who may have legal issues but who have traditionally faced barriers to receiving legal advice from a lawyer or paralegal. Under the new policy, CSOs will be permitted to provide legal services to clients in addition to the services they already provide, such as social and health services. The policy is intended to enable the creation of new inclusive entry points for vulnerable people to find legal services, and integrated service delivery to people facing multiple issues, including legal problems.”

Alex Robinson, Some Alternative Business Structures approved, Law Times, October 2, 2017:

“Some personal injury lawyers are concerned that new Alternative Business Structure initiatives approved by the Law Society of Upper Canada are the beginning of a slippery slope toward non-lawyer ownership of law firms.

LSUC benchers approved a motion at their September meeting to allow non-profits and charities to provide legal services through practitioners. The changes will allow non-profits and charities to employ lawyers to provide legal services directly to clients rather than referring them out. … ‘We certainly want to see greater access to justice for those in need, and this model could help with that laudable goal.’”

United States: Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017:

“In this Article, ABSs refer to any of the following: (1) a business structure allowing nonlawyers to have a larger percentage of ownership or managerial interest; (2) a business structure permitting passive investment in the ABS; or (3) a business structure allowing nonlegal as well as legal services (sometimes referred to as multidisciplinary practices or MDPs). Except in a limited manner prescribed in two jurisdictions, all of these structures would run afoul of the current rules of professional conduct in effect in the United States that prohibit fee sharing with nonlawyers (Rule 5.4(a)–(b)) and the unauthorized practice of law (Rule 5.5).”

[81] CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014 – “Internationally, expectations in client service are being transformed by the growth of alternate business structures (ABSs) which permit non-lawyer investment and ownership, and multidisciplinary practices (MDPs) which combine legal services with other professional services.” [page 19]; Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013.

[82] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014.

[83] For example, Ontario Canada: “licensed lawyers and paralegals in sole practice or in firms owned and controlled by licensed legal professionals may provide legal services in Ontario.” [Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014].

[84] Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015; Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999. Also see, James Bible, Why do law firms find innovation so difficult, Legal Business World.com, October 6, 2016.

[85] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014. Also see, Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015; Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999. Also see, James Bible, Why do law firms find innovation so difficult, Legal Business World.com, October 6, 2016.

[86] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013:

“General Partnership (GP) law … became the standard business form used by law firms. The most attractive characteristic of the GP is the pass-through taxation of firm income, in which partnership profits are not subject to an entity-level tax but rather are taxed as personal income only when the partners receive a profit distribution. More and more firms, however, have foregone the traditional GP form to instead partake in attractive limited liability entities such as limited liability companies (LLC) and limited liability partnerships (LLP). Whereas in a GP each partner is exposed to “unlimited[] personal[] liab[ility] for both the misconduct of his or her partners, as well as any debts of the partnership to the extent that either exceed the assets of the partnership,” in the LLC or LLP entities the respective member or partner (collectively “member”) can at a minimum limit their personal liability to their own torts and thus remove any personal liability for the torts of other members.”

Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014; CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014; Pablo Fuchs, How to Decide on a Business Structure for Your Law Firm, Canadian Bar Association, April 15, 2014; How to Start a Law Firm: Organizational Structure, Findlaw.com (Thomson Reuters), 2017; Choosing a Business Structure for Your Law Firm, Findlaw.com (Thomson Reutuers), 2017; Clifford Winston, Robert Crandall, Vikram Maheshri, First Thing We Do, Let’s Deregulate All the Lawyers, Brookings Institution Press, 2011; Robert Hillman and Mark Lowenstein, editors, Research Handbook on Partnerships, LLCs and Alternative Forms of Business Organizations, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015 (chapter 17, The law firm as an industry model for entity choice and management, Allison Rhodes and Robyn Axberg).

[87] Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015; Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999.

[88] Matthew Longobardi, Unauthorized Practice of Law and Meaningful Access to the Courts: Is Law Too Important to be Left to Lawyers?, 35 Cardozo Law Review 2043, 2014 (“people with legal problems have two options for handling their issues: Either retain a lawyer or proceed pro se”.); Self-Representation: The Perils of Pro Se, Find Law.com, 2017; Pro se legal representation in the United States, Wikipedia (last edited August 7, 2017; Cynthia Gray, Reaching Out or Overreaching: Judicial Ethics and Self-Represented Litigants, 27 J. Nat’l Ass’n Admin. L. Judiciary Iss. 1, 2007; Pintea v. Johns, [2017] 1 SCR 470 (“we endorse the Statement of Principles on Self-represented Litigants and Accused Persons (2006) established by the Canadian Judicial Council”.)

[89] Matthew Longobardi, Unauthorized Practice of Law and Meaningful Access to the Courts: Is Law Too Important to be Left to Lawyers?, 35 Cardozo Law Review 2043, 2014:

“Professor Rhode has suggested that since a criminal defendant may conduct his own defense, even to his detriment, that “in civil contexts, where there is no constitutional entitlement to a lawyer’s assistance, and where the costs of errors are so much less significant, a litigant’s desire to seek lay services is also entitled to deference.” [Deborah L. Rhode, Policing the Professional Monopoly: A Constitutional and Empirical Analysis of Unauthorized Practice Prohibitions, 34 Stanford Law Review 1 , 1981]. A related argument is that since UPL does not, and cannot, prohibit self-representation, UPL rules are not an effective way of protecting consumers from unqualified providers of legal services. See Benjamin Hoorn Barton, Why Do We Regulate Lawyers?: An Economic Analysis of the Justifications for Entry and Conduct Regulation, 33 Ariz. St. L.J. 429, 2001, at 447–48 (“If the purpose of licensing and unauthorized practice laws is truly to protect the public from serious harms, it would seem that pro se representation should be banned as well. . . . Nevertheless, we allow self-representation, but not unlicensed representation; a sign that unauthorized practice rules are aimed at suppressing competition and not protecting the public.”).”

[90] Matthew Longobardi, Unauthorized Practice of Law and Meaningful Access to the Courts: Is Law Too Important to be Left to Lawyers?, 35 Cardozo Law Review 2043, 2014.

[91] Mary Jutten, Technology and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Law Technology Today, June 12, 2015.

[92] Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015; Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999.

[93] Jill Dessalines, Adapt or Die: Why Law Firms Must Change to Survive in Tomorrow’s Economy, Linkedin.com, March 6, 2017; Ilina Rejeva, The Anatomy of the Billable Hour, LegalTrek, 2016 – “rewards inefficiency … creates budget uncertainty for clients … doesn’t differentiate the value of the work done”.

[94] William D. Henderson, More Complex than Greed, The American Lawyer (AxiomLaw.com), May 29, 2012; Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; International Bar Association, ‘Times are a-changin’: disruptive innovation and the legal profession, IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit, May 2016; Law Society of England and Wales, The Future of Legal Services, January 2016; ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States, August 2016.

[95] Jill Dessalines, Adapt or Die: Why Law Firms Must Change to Survive in Tomorrow’s Economy, Linkedin.com, March 6, 2017.

[96] Tara Weintritt, What GCs See as the Biggest Challenge Facing Firms, JDSupra.com, February 28, 2017; Jill Dessalines, Adapt or Die: Why Law Firms Must Change to Survive in Tomorrow’s Economy, Linkedin.com, March 6, 2017. James Bliwas, Why Are Law Firms Falling Behind?, LInkedin, October 12, 2017:

“A new study from Nisus Consulting finds “clients feel they are paying through the nose and that the (law firm’s) profits are excessive,” and as a result they are not getting value for money.”

Also see, Georgetown Law and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor, 2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market, Managing Partner Forum.org, March 17, 2017; Jason Moyse and Aron Solomon, Remaking the law firm ecosystem, Canadian Lawyer, July 4, 2016; Deloitte, Future Trends for Legal Services: Global Research Study, June 2016 – “independent research study commissioned by Deloitte Legal. Findings are based on 243 quantitative survey responses, and 30 qualitative, in-depth interviews with in-house legal services purchasers, mainly occupying positions of CEOs, CFOs or General/Legal Counsel.”  Note: Corporate clients are changing their approach to buying legal services across the globe. Conventional law firms are no longer meeting today’s business needs. One in three companies surveyed want their legal services provider to bring industry, commercial and non-legal expertise, which currently they do not; as well, to be more savvy on global data and cyber protection issues and more pro-active in sharing knowledge across many jurisdictions. Traditional law firms are seen to be trailing other professional services firms in this area. The majority (55%) of participants in the study (legal counsel, general counsel, CEOs and CFOs) have taken or are considering a significant review of their legal suppliers.

[97] Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015; Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; International Bar Association, ‘Times are a-changin’: disruptive innovation and the legal profession, IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit, May 2016; Law Society of England and Wales, The Future of Legal Services, January 2016; ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States, August 2016.

[98] Business View, Industry leader on how professional services firms must change, NAB (Business.nab.com.au), September 22, 2017.

[99] Rene Orij, New Business models for the Legal Services Market, Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Leiden Law School, April 2016; Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017. Citing: Andrew M. Perlman, Towards the Law of Legal Services, 37 Cardozo L. Rev. 49, 99, 2015; Bilal Kaiser, 10 Years of New Technology and How Our Lives Have Changed, LegalZoom (last visited May 14, 2017) (“What was once pretty much impossible, simple and common legal matters can now be completed online. Creating last wills and living trusts, protecting intellectual property[,] and even forming a business no longer require going through an expensive attorney’s office.”). Also see, R. Susskind, D. Susskind, The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, OUP Oxford, 2015.

[100] Kate Simpson, Are Platforms coming to legal?, Canadian Lawyer, April 4, 2016; Jordan Furlong, Here Come the Disruptors, Law21.ca, August 17, 2011; Aron Solomon and Jason Moyse, Let the robots help the public, Canadian Lawyer, September 5, 2016; James M. McCauley, The Future of the Practice of Law: Can Alternative Business Structures for the Legal Profession Improve Access to Legal Services?, 51 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online, 2016; Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016; Neil Rose, Here come the Americans: LegalZoom gains ABS licence, Legal Futures.co.uk, January 7, 2015; Judith McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016.

[101] Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016.

[102] Stephanie Francis Ward, The legal education model is out of touch, writes new ABA Commission member, ABA Journal, September 21, 2017; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014. Also see, Malcolm Mercer, Being in Favour of Reform, Just Not Change, Slaw, February 26, 2014 (“Should we care about the 85% of legal needs that are not addressed by lawyers? … The next question is why are lawyers used for less than 15% of legal needs?”); Jayne Reardon, Embrace a New Law Model to Better Serve Public and Lawyers, 2 Civility.org, November 29, 2016 (“Many studies over the last few decades reveal that an increasing segment of the population, primarily low and moderate income Americans, are not accessing legal services.  For only one example, Deborah Rhode documents in her research that “[a]ccording to most estimates, about four-fifths of the civil legal needs of the poor, and two- to three-fifths of the needs of middle-income individuals, remain unmet.”); Dr. George Beaton, 10 reasons BigLaw managing partners are not sleeping very well, Beaton Capital, August 15, 2015 (Lawyers are increasingly unaffordable to most individuals: Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet.  Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length.  Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems. Increasingly, these needs are being addressed by providers outside the legal profession, including those within the early resolution services sector.); Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015:

“Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. Nearly 12 million Canadians will experience at least one legal problem in a given three-year period, yet few will have the resources to solve them. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet. We all know that unresolved legal problems adversely affect people’s lives and, ultimately, the public purse. Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length. Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems, and legal problems tend to lead to problems of other types, such as health issues.”

Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015; Chris Pierce-Wright, Report: The Unmet Legal Needs of America’s Small Business Community, Insight: Center for Community Economic Development, August 2015 (“With legal fees that price out most of the country’s businesses and individuals, necessity dictates that small businesses and community organizations either look elsewhere for legal support or forego it altogether”). Also see, Improving access – tackling unmet legal needs: Risk Outlook update, Solicitors Regulation Authority, June 2017; Malcolm Mercer, Access to Justice Needs Access to Research, Slaw, January 19, 2017; Laurel A. Rigertas, Stratification of the Legal Profession: A Debate in Need of A Public Forum, J. Prof. Law. 79, 2012.

[103] Anthony Hilton, Why their profession’s failures mean lawyers don’t win top city jobs, Evening Standard, UK, September 22, 2016.

[104] Tara Weintritt, What GCs See as the Biggest Challenge Facing Firms, JDSupra.com, February 28, 2017. Also see, Jason Moyse and Aron Solomon, Remaking the law firm ecosystem, Canadian Lawyer, July 4, 2016; Deloitte, Future Trends for Legal Services: Global Research Study, June 2016 – “independent research study commissioned by Deloitte Legal. Findings are based on 243 quantitative survey responses, and 30 qualitative, in-depth interviews with in-house legal services purchasers, mainly occupying positions of CEOs, CFOs or General/Legal Counsel.”  Note: Corporate clients are changing their approach to buying legal services across the globe. Conventional law firms are no longer meeting today’s business needs. One in three companies surveyed want their legal services provider to bring industry, commercial and non-legal expertise, which currently they do not; as well, to be more savvy on global data and cyber protection issues and more pro-active in sharing knowledge across many jurisdictions. Traditional law firms are seen to be trailing other professional services firms in this area. The majority (55%) of participants in the study (legal counsel, general counsel, CEOs and CFOs) have taken or are considering a significant review of their legal suppliers.

[105] Jill Dessalines, Adapt or Die: Why Law Firms Must Change to Survive in Tomorrow’s Economy, Linkedin.com, March 6, 2017.

[106] The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR, is the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be described as a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, and impacting all disciplines, economies and industries. At its core is the combination of big data, analytics and physical technology – providing increasingly enhanced, customized offerings to help meet the needs of organizations and individuals that can adapt and evolve to changing situations and requirements over time. Central to this revolution are emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing and nanotechnology. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance. Business leaders and senior executives and their trusted business and legal advisors need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of operating teams, and relentlessly innovate.  See, Klaus Schwab, The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond, World Economic Forum, January 14, 2016; Irving Wladawsky-Berger, The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Risks and Benefits, Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2017; Ernst & Young, What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? How will it affect business and society, EY (betterworkingworld.ey.com); Hugh Son, JP Morgan Software Does in Seconds What Took Lawyers360,000 Hours, Bloomberg, February 27, 2017; Alex Gray, The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum, January 19, 2016.

[107] Graham Richardson, Navigating a Brave New World: Eversheds innovates, The Practice (Vol. 2, Issue 2), Harvard Law School: Center on the Legal Profession (thepractice.law.harvard.edu), January 2016.

[108] Mark Cohen, ‘Legal Innovation’ is not an Oxymoron – It’s Farther Along Than you Think, Forbes, March 14, 2017.

[109] Canadian Bar Association, The Future of Legal Services in Canada: Trends and Issues, June 2013.

[110] Kai Jacob, Dierk Schindler, Roger Strathausen (editors), Liquid Legal: Transforming Legal into a Business Savvy, Information Enabled and Performance Driven Industry, Springer International Publishing, 2017; Richard Susskind, The End of Lawyers: Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services, Oxford University Press, 2008; Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to your Future, Oxford University Press, 2013; Mark Cohen, Postcards from Europe; Part 1: London, Forbes, October 9, 2017; Forces of change in legal marketplace too powerful for Magic Circle to avoid, Global Legal Post, October 11, 2017.

[111] See, Eric Sigurdson, The Global Corporate Legal Market: Rise of the Big Four Accounting Firms as an alternative legal services delivery model – from ‘multidisciplinary’ professional service firms to ‘globally integrated’ business solution providers, Sigurdson Post, March 27, 2017; Dan Bindman, Report: ‘huge unmet legal need for unbundled services across the board’, Legal Futures.co.uk, September 6, 2017; Daniel Fish, Are There Too Many Lawyers?: With students graduating in record numbers into a stagnant job market, the answer must be yes, right? Not even close, Precedent JD, September 6, 2017.

[112] Altman Weil Flash Survey, Law Firms in Transition, May 2016. Also see, Chew Seng Kok, New approaches to the delivery of legal services – embracing innovation to manage disruptions to the legal profession, Zico Law Network, Faculty of Law, Otago University (New Zealand), July 21, 2016.

[113] Alternative service providers are referred to as NewLaw. NewLaw was devised as a term in 2013 by consultant Eric Chin. NewLaw has been defined as “any model, process, or tool that represents a significantly different approach to the creation or provision of legal services than what the legal profession traditionally has employed” [Jordan Furlong]. See, Ilina Rejeva, What is NewLaw and How It is Changing the Legal Industry Forever, LegalTrek, April 26, 2016. For example: NewLaw ‘alternative legal service provider’ models may include, for example: secondment firms, law and business advice companies, law firm accordion companies, virtual law firms and companies, and innovative law firms and companies.

[114] See, Eric Sigurdson, The Global Corporate Legal Market: Rise of the Big Four Accounting Firms as an alternative legal services delivery model – from ‘multidisciplinary’ professional service firms to ‘globally integrated’ business solution providers, Sigurdson Post, March 27, 2017; Julius Melnitzer, Accounting Firms in Law: The Long Game, Lexpert.ca, September 11, 2017; Debra Cassens Weiss, PwC to open US law firm, a sign of increasing focus on legal operations by Big 4 accounting firms, ABA Journal, September 21, 2017 (“Law firm leaders are waking up to the Big Four threat, the ALM report says. Sixty-six percent of partners surveyed said they were concerned about alternative legal service providers and accounting firms, and 64 percent said accounting firms moving into the legal industry was a bigger threat than the expansion of in-house legal departments, e-discovery vendors and legal process outsourcing companies.”); PwC’s new US law firm heightens fears, Financial Review, October 12, 2017; Elizabeth Olson, PwC, the Accounting Giant, Will Open  Law Firm in the US, New York Times, September 22, 2017; Alex Berry, PwC Launches On-Demand Flexible Lawyer Service for Clients, The American Lawyer, October 12, 2017.

[115] PwC, 26th Annual Law Firm’s Survey: Time for change – PwC Law Firms’ Survey 2017, PwC.co.uk, 2017.

[116] Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014.

[117] Alternative Business Structures Have Had A Transformational Impact in Delivering Legal Services, LawTeacher, 2015.

[118] James Goodnow, Saving BigLaw, Above the Law, October 6, 2017.

[119] Georgetown Law and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor, 2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market, Managing Partner Forum.org, March 17, 2017:

“Corporate clients, under intense internal pressure to reduce the overall costs of legal services, insisted on taking control of their matters and managing the work of their outside law firms to a degree never before seen. Insisting on the necessity of receiving more value for their “legal spend,” clients increasingly emphasized the need for greater efficiency, predictability, and cost-effectiveness in the legal services they received – quality, of course, being assumed.”

Also see, Jane Southren, No, you aren’t imagining it: Legal services really are harder to ‘sell’, Canadian Lawyer, July 31, 2017.

[120] James Goodnow, Saving BigLaw, Above the Law, October 6, 2017; Mitchell Kowalski, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century, 2012. Also see, Altman Weil, 2016 Chief Legal Officer Survey (“lack of innovation in service delivery by law firms”); Mitch Kowalski, McGill study reveals the ‘illusion’ of innovation at Canadian law firms, National Post, January 26, 2017 (“while Canadian law firms talk a good ‘innovation’ game, little innovation is actually taking place”); Aly R Haji, The Illusion of Innovation at Canadian Law Firms, McGill University (Faculty of Management, Supervised by Prof. Karl Moore, mentorship support and guidance from Mike Ross and strategy consultant Juniper), jnper.com, January 2017.

[121] Mitchell Kowalski, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century, 2012; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014.

[122] See, Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014:

“There is significant competition between existing legal practices for legal work. However, this competition is mostly by traditional firms and mostly for traditional legal work.

While permitting alternative business structures may provide opportunities for existing practices to innovate and serve new markets, it is also likely that existing practices will face competition from new kinds of firms.”

[123] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013.

[124] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017. Citing: Andrew M. Perlman, Towards the Law of Legal Services, 37 Cardozo L. Rev. 49, 67, 2015. Also see, Professor Richard Susskind, Artificial Intelligence – Challenges for Policymakers: A Submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, September 6, 2017 [http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/artificial-intelligence-committee/artificial-intelligence/written/69715.html].

[125] Jasmine Martin, PwC’s 2017 Law Firms’ survey predicts technology-driven change and M&A activity, Linkedin.com, October 17, 2017. Also see, PwC, 26th Annual Law Firm’s Survey: Time for change – PwC Law Firms’ Survey 2017, PwC.co.uk, 2017.

[126] Mitch Kowalski, McGill study reveals the ‘illusion’ of innovation at Canadian law firms, National Post, January 26, 2017; Aly R Haji, The Illusion of Innovation at Canadian Law Firms, McGill University (Faculty of Management, Supervised by Prof. Karl Moore, mentorship support and guidance from Mike Ross and strategy consultant Juniper), jnper.com, January 2017; Drew Hasselback, Lawyers not embracing opportunities from technology, Deloitte report finds, Financial Post, June 6, 2017.

[127] 2017 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com; Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States, American Bar Association, 2016; Kandy Williams, Is the Legal Profession on the Cusp of Uber-Like Disruption? The ABA Commission’s Report on the Future of Legal Services in the U.S., Montage Legal.com, October 25, 2016. –  Noting the legal profession has not “fully harnessed the power of technology to improve the delivery of legal services”; William Vogeler, Are Law Firms Embracing AI? Not So Much, Survey Concludes, Technologist, FindLaw.com, July 11, 2017.

[128] Drew Hasselback, Lawyers not embracing opportunities from technology, Deloitte reports finds, Financial Post, June 6, 2017; Robert Ambrogi, Survey: Just 7.5% of Firms Using AI, But Half Pursuing Other Innovations, Law Sites, June 7, 2017; 2017 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com; William Vogeler, Law Firms Resist Changing Business Model, Despite Growing Competition, FindLaw.com, July 18, 2017; Paula King, Law Firms, legal departments failing to embrace innovation, Deloitte survey finds, The Lawyers Daily, June 19, 2017; Canadian legal landscape 2017: Issues and trends facing Canadian in-house counsel and law firms, Deloitte, 2017; William Vogeler, Are Law Firms Embracing AI? Not So Much, Survey Concludes, Technologist, FindLaw.com, July 11, 2017; Mitch Kowalski, McGill study reveals the ‘illusion’ of innovation at Canadian law firms, National Post, January 26, 2017; Aly R Haji, The Illusion of Innovation at Canadian Law Firms, McGill University (Faculty of Management, Supervised by Prof. Karl Moore, mentorship support and guidance from Mike Ross and strategy consultant Juniper), jnper.com, January 2017.

[129] Carla Del Bove, Why Understanding Economics is the Key to Law Firm Profitability, Business of Law Blog.com, November 9, 2016. Re developing environment to encourage law firm innovation: See, Gabriel Teninbaum, White Paper – Collaboration, Communication & Data: 11 Principles of Law Firm Innovation, Thomson Reuters, Legal Executive Institute, June 13, 2017.

[130] David Burgess, 9,096 GCs interviewed about their law firms’ adoption of innovative working methods, such as technology and AI: How do the UK’s Top 50 law firms stack up?, Linkedin (Publishing Director, The Legal 500 Series), November 3, 2016 – 2016 Client Intelligence Report.

[131] Drew Hasselback, The unkillable billable hour: How Canadian corporations are clinging to legal business ‘poison’, National Post, March 6, 2015; Ilina Rejeva, The Anatomy of the Billable Hour, LegalTrek, 2016 – “rewards inefficiency … creates budget uncertainty for clients … doesn’t differentiate the value of the work done”; Paul M. Barrett, How Billable Hours Changed the Legal Profession, Bloomberg, December 4, 2014; Leigh McMullan Abramson, Is the Billable Hour Obsolete?: Clients are getting fed up with being charged high rates for six-minute increments of time, The Atlantic, October 15, 2015; Ben Jackson, Billable Hour Transforms the Legal Profession, Lexisnexis.com, April 18, 2012; Ronald Rotunda, The Problem of Inflating Billable Hours, Verdict.Justia.com, November 17, 2014; Elie Mystal, How Many Billable Hours Do You Have to Work Before You are ‘Busy’?, Above the Law, April 16, 2012; Bell Starting to Toll on Billable Hour, Canadian Lawyer, July 21, 2013; Ralph Baxter, The inherent client conflict of interest caused by hours-based billing, Canadian Lawyer, March 16, 2015; Joe Borstein, Competition is for Losers: The Rise of Atrium, Above the Law, September 27, 2017:

“Ponder for a moment, what I call “the legal innovation paradox”: in a billable hour regime, efficiency reduces profit. (Let’s call it “The Paradox,” if you are into the whole brevity thing).

Anyone who has worked in Biglaw holds this truth to be self-evident: the more time spent on a task, the more revenue and profit flow to the law firm. In such a regime, how can innovative legal companies (which reduce time spent on tasks) encourage law firms to adopt them?  As a warrior on the front lines of that battle in my day job, I can tell you that it’s quite difficult.”

Also see, Bank of Nova Scotia v. Diemer, 2014 ONCA 851 (CanLII)– Madam Justice Sarah Pepall, Ontario Court of Appeal:

“There is something inherently troubling about a billing system that pits a lawyer’s financial interest against that of its client and that has built-in incentives for inefficiency. The billable hour model has both of these undesirable features.”

[132] Canadian Bar Association, The Future of Legal Services in Canada: Trends and Issues, June 2013; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014 (page 8).

[133] Jayne Reardon, The Disruption of Alternative Business Structures, 2 Civility.org, April 11, 2017.

[134] Professional Services Market Global Report 2017, The Business Research Company.com; Law Firms Face Increasing Competition from Non-Traditional Sources, SB Wire.com, October 30, 2017.

[135] James Goodnow, Saving BigLaw, Above the Law, October 6, 2017.

[136] “Call to the Bar” definition: The official moment that a lawyer is sworn or entered into a law society or state bar or court and thereafter licensed to practice law in that jurisdiction. The call to the bar is a legal term of art in most common law jurisdictions where lawyers must be qualified to be allowed to present in court on behalf of another party. A licensed lawyer is said to be “called to the bar” or to have received a “call to the bar”. Common law jurisdictions include Australia, England and Wales, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Hong Kong, India, the United States, among others.

[137] Mark Cohen, The New Delivery Paradigm and Tools of the Legal Trade, Forbes, June 19, 2017.

[138] Hassan M. Ahmad, Despair Ahead: Millennial lawyers and the legal job market, Canadian Lawyer, July 10, 2017; Jane Croft, Artificial Intelligence closes in on the work of junior lawyers, Financial Times, May 4, 2017; Michael Bromley, AI, Contracting and Outsourcing – what will a ’first year lawyer’ be in 2025, EA International.com, November 21, 2016; Steve Lohr, AI is Doing Legal Work. But It Won’t Replace Lawyers, Yet, New York Times, March 19, 2017:

“Corporate clients often are no longer willing to pay high hourly rates to law firms for junior lawyers to do routine work. Those tasks are already being automated and outsourced, both by the firms themselves and by outside suppliers like Axiom, Thomson Reuters, Elevate and the Big Four accounting firms”

But see, Thomas Connelly, Why the ascendence of AI can benefit young lawyers, Legal Cheek.com, March 7, 2017.

[139] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association, 2014; Charlie Gillis, Do we really need so many lawyers? – Barrister boom and bust: Legal fees are falling, pay is stagnant and jobs for law grads are harder to come by, MacLeans, September 22, 2013; Charlotte Santry, The expectation gap: Canadian Lawyer Compensation Survey, Canadian Lawyer, July 2, 2013; Nancy Macdonald, The $100,000 club: Who’s really making big money these days – Canada’s new upper class: firefighters, police officers, teachers, MacLeans, April 15, 2013 (“With an average income of $83,500, schoolteachers in Ontario now earn the same as the average lawyer in the province”); Siobhan McClelland, Becoming a Lawyer: Is A Law Degree Still a ‘Golden Ticket’?, Huffington Post, September 4, 2012; Charlie Gillis, Do we really need so many lawyers? – Barrister boom and bust: Legal fees are falling, pay is stagnant and jobs for law grads are harder to come by, MacLeans, September 22, 2013; Ted Tjaden, Letter to a Law Student, Slaw (Canada’s online legal magazine), October 19, 2011; Law School in Canada: what will it cost?: comparing tuition fees at Canada’s common and civil law schools, Macleans, September 24, 2014; University of Toronto JD (Law School) tuition fees: 2016-2017 academic year – $34,734.82 [http://www.law.utoronto.ca/academic-programs/jd-program/financial-aid-and-fees/student-fees-jd-program#jd_fees]; Ryan Bhandari, Is it Still Worth it to Go to Law School?, Equities.com, July 16, 2015; Michelle Fox, Law School economics changing the reality for legal hopefuls, CNBC.com, May 9, 2015; Sarah Rankin, Today’s law grad: Six figures in debt and heading to Bay Street, Globe and Mail, April 2, 2013.

[140] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017. Also see, Jim Middlemiss, The rise of the sole practitioner, Financial Post, July 17, 2013; Kelly Jordan, The backbone of the profession mirrors clients’ diversity, Ontario Lawyers Gazette, Spring 2010 (vol. 14, no. 1):

“… 2009 Membership data shows that lawyers practising in a sole or small setting (fewer than 10 lawyers) account for 98 per cent of all the firms in the province and 63 per cent of practitioners.”

But see, Dan Pinnington, Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Sole Practitioner, Slaw, April 21, 2014 – “One-third of the more than 24,000 lawyers in private practice in Ontario are sole practitioners.”

Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014:

“Sole practitioners and practitioners in small firms may benefit from the advantages associated with participating in a larger entity or organization. These include –

  • access to and investment in technology, technological innovations and infrastructure,
  • the opportunity to share business costs,
  • access to business and other expertise,
  • ethical infrastructure,
  • association with a known brand, and
  • greater market power in dealing with suppliers and other market participants.”

[141] David B. Wilkins and Maria Jose Esteban, The Reemergence of the Big Four in Law: their rise, transformation, and potential triumph, The Practice (Vol. 2, Issue 2), Harvard Law School: Center on the Legal Profession (thepractice.law.harvard.edu), January 2016; Deloitte, Future Trends for Legal Services, Global Research Study, June 2016 (“One in three legal services purchasers surveyed want their legal services provider to bring industry, commercial and non-legal expertise, which currently they do not.  …. Traditional law firms are seen to be trailing other professional services firms in this area.”).

[142] Heidi Gardner, Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos, Harvard Business Review Press, January 2017; Maria Jose Esteban and Professor David Wilkins, The re-emergence of the Big 4 in law, Thomson Reuters, April 27, 2016; Anthony Hilton, Why their profession’s failures mean lawyers don’t win top city jobs, Evening Standard, UK, September 22, 2016; Mark Cohen, ‘Legal Innovation’ is not an Oxymoron – It’s Farther Along Than you Think, Forbes, March 14, 2017.

[143] Mary E. Juetten, How can technology solve our access to justice crisis?, ABA Journal, September 8, 2017. Also see, Malcolm Mercer, Being in Favour of Reform, Just Not Change, Slaw, February 26, 2014 (“Should we care about the 85% of legal needs that are not addressed by lawyers? … The next question is why are lawyers used for less than 15% of legal needs?”); Jayne Reardon, Embrace a New Law Model to Better Serve Public and Lawyers, 2 Civility.org, November 29, 2016 (“Many studies over the last few decades reveal that an increasing segment of the population, primarily low and moderate income Americans, are not accessing legal services.  For only one example, Deborah Rhode documents in her research that “[a]ccording to most estimates, about four-fifths of the civil legal needs of the poor, and two- to three-fifths of the needs of middle-income individuals, remain unmet.”); Dr. George Beaton, 10 reasons BigLaw managing partners are not sleeping very well, Beaton Capital, August 15, 2015 (Lawyers are increasingly unaffordable to most individuals: Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet.  Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length.  Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems. Increasingly, these needs are being addressed by providers outside the legal profession, including those within the early resolution services sector.); Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015:

“Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. Nearly 12 million Canadians will experience at least one legal problem in a given three-year period, yet few will have the resources to solve them. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet. We all know that unresolved legal problems adversely affect people’s lives and, ultimately, the public purse. Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length. Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems, and legal problems tend to lead to problems of other types, such as health issues.”

Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015; Chris Pierce-Wright, Report: The Unmet Legal Needs of America’s Small Business Community, Insight: Center for Community Economic Development, August 2015 (“With legal fees that price out most of the country’s businesses and individuals, necessity dictates that small businesses and community organizations either look elsewhere for legal support or forego it altogether”). Also see, Improving access – tackling unmet legal needs: Risk Outlook update, Solicitors Regulation Authority, June 2017; Malcolm Mercer, Access to Justice Needs Access to Research, Slaw, January 19, 2017; Laurel A. Rigertas, Stratification of the Legal Profession: A Debate in Need of A Public Forum, J. Prof. Law. 79, 2012.

[144] James Bliwas, Why Are Law Firms Falling Behind?, LInkedin, October 12, 2017:

“A new study from Nisus Consulting finds “clients feel they are paying through the nose and that the (law firm’s) profits are excessive,” and as a result they are not getting value for money.”

[145] Kai Jacob, Dierk Schindler, Roger Strathausen (editors), Liquid Legal: Transforming Legal into a Business Savvy, Information Enabled and Performance Driven Industry, Springer International Publishing, 2017; Richard Susskind, The End of Lawyers: Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services, Oxford University Press, 2008; Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to your Future, Oxford University Press, 2013; Mark Cohen, Postcards from Europe; Part 1: London, Forbes, October 9, 2017; Forces of change in legal marketplace too powerful for Magic Circle to avoid, Global Legal Post, October 11, 2017.

[146] James Bliwas, Why Are Law Firms Falling Behind?, LInkedin, October 12, 2017.

[147] Eric Sigurdson, The Global Corporate Legal Market: Rise of the Big Four Accounting Firms as an alternative legal services delivery model – from ‘multidisciplinary’ professional service firms to ‘globally integrated’ business solution providers, Sigurdson Post, March 27, 2017.

[148] PwC’s new US law firm heightens fears, Financial Review, October 12, 2017:

“PwC now has 3200 lawyers worldwide; …. EY Law has 2100; Deloitte is nearby with more than 2000; and KPMG has 1400.”

[149] James Bliwas, Why Are Law Firms Falling Behind?, LInkedin, October 12, 2017.

[150] Elliott Krause, This Robot Will Handle Your Divorce Free of Charge, Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2017; George Khory, Will the Divorce Chatbot Steal Your Clients?, Technologist (Findlaw.com), October 31, 2017; William Vogeler, Chatbox Opens Up 1,000 Practice Areas, Technologist (Findlaw.com),July 19, 2017 (“Now his bot, DoNotPay, is opening up 1,000 legal areas. That might trouble some lawyers, but Browder is also offering the program to attorneys”); Neil Rose, Legal Chatbox pioneer receives $1m investment to pursue goal of making access to law free, Legal Futures.co.uk, November 6, 2017:

“DoNotPay – the chatbot that aims to make access to the law free – has received $1.1m (£840,000) in backing from leading Silicon Valley investors, and even some lawyers. …

Mr Browder, currently a student at Stanford University in the US, said the money would be used to tackle more complicated areas of the law. “Divorce, immigration, small claims, property tax and more corporate takedowns are on their way, and perhaps the last app that everyone downloads is the one that solves all of their problems for free.”

He continued: “I am not doing this to make any money whatsoever. As part of the funding (and all future financings), I will take a $1 salary until the law is free for everyone in America [and the UK].

“Of course, we are a long way from that goal, but I hope that DoNotPay will ultimately give everyone the same legal power as the richest in society.”

In July, Mr Browder announced that he was working on an ambitious plan to automate the divorce process with the assistance of a team of salaried paralegals, having also launched 1,000 legal chatbots covering simple legal forms in the US and the UK – including consumer and workplace rights matters ranging from maternity leave to landlord contract violations.”

[151] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Andrew M. Perlman, Towards the Law of Legal Services, 37 Cardozo L. Rev. 49, 67, 2015; Thomas R. Bruce, Some Thoughts on the Constitution of Public Legal Information Providers, Cornell Univ. Sch. L (last visited October 13, 2017).

[152] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Andrew M. Perlman, Towards the Law of Legal Services, 37 Cardozo L. Rev. 49, 67, 2015. Also see, Elizabeth Raymer, Resolving Disputes online, Canadian Lawyer.com, October 2, 2017; Andrew Ottaway, Online Dispute Resolution is Coming: Are We Ready?, Just, OBA.org, August 18, 2017; James Dartnell, DIFC Courts CEO Mark Beer: legal industry desperately needs IT transformation, tahawul tech.com, October 15, 2017:

“Although [Mr.] Beer acknowledges that human beings are fundamental in the role of a successful court, he does believe that less critical cases could be managed via automation. “We’re already seeing that computers are as good as, and if not better than us at dealing with small disputes,” he says. “Look at DoNotPay. Before, if you got a speeding ticket, you’d go to a lawyer who’d charge more than the cost of paying it off. Now, you go to a website, type in your ticket number, choose your defence from a drop-down menu, then they process the whole thing for you. It’s achieving a success rate beyond any lawyer’s imagination.” He believes judicial systems would be enhanced by similar initiatives. “A vast amount of complaints can be taken out of the system by making it more efficient. You can leave the courts to what they do best, which is dealing with complex, technical cases.”

Beer’s thinking isn’t confined to the legal industry. He has already spied a gap in the market for the ways that everyday retail disputes are solved. “How long until there’s a global online platform for them? If you look at what Alibaba are doing in Hangzhou, and Tencent, eBay and Amazon are doing with their platforms in Shenzhen, these are privately led dispute services, but ultimately, they’ll need to convert their decision into being a matter of law. I think we’ll see the intersection of private dispute resolution and public dispute resolution in order to cater for the global retail market. Governments will need to decide whether they are happy to let the private sector take over some of these mechanisms.””

[153] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017.

[154] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Altman Weil, Law Firms in Transition 2017: An Altman Weil Flash Survey (“Two-thirds of firms report losing business to corporate law department insourcing”; “19%” losing business to “non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services”); Altman Weil, Law Firms in Transition 2016: An Altman Weil Flash Survey (“68% of law firms report they are losing business to corporate law departments”; “19% of law firms report they are losing business to non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services”).

[155] James Bliwas, Why Are Law Firms Falling Behind?, LInkedin, October 12, 2017; Stephanie Forshee, Law Departments Are Adding Lawyers, Legal Ops While Cutting Budgets, Corporate Counsel, October 25, 2017.

[156] Altman Weil, Law Firms in Transition 2017: An Altman Weil Flash Survey (“Two-thirds of firms report losing business to corporate law department insourcing”; “19%” losing business to “non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services”). Alsoe see, Altman Weil, Law Firms in Transition 2016: An Altman Weil Flash Survey (“68% of law firms report they are losing business to corporate law departments”; “19% of law firms report they are losing business to non-law firm providers of legal and quasi-legal services”).

[157] ALM Intelligence and Morrison & Foerster, General Counsel Up-At-Night Report, 2017.

[158] Mark Cohen and Liam Brown, New Players driving value for legal departments, CBA National, October 2, 2017

[159] 2017 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com; Drew Hasselback, Lawyers not embracing opportunities from technology, Deloitte reports finds, Financial Post, June 6, 2017; Mitch Kowalski, McGill study reveals the ‘illusion’ of innovation at Canadian law firms, National Post, January 26, 2017; Aly R Haji, The Illusion of Innovation at Canadian Law Firms, McGill University (Faculty of Management, Supervised by Prof. Karl Moore, mentorship support and guidance from Mike Ross and strategy consultant Juniper), jnper.com, January 2017; Robert Ambrogi, Survey: Just 7.5% of Firms Using AI, But Half Pursuing Other Innovations, Law Sites, June 7, 2017; William Vogeler, Law Firms Resist Changing Business Model, Despite Growing Competition, FindLaw.com, July 18, 2017; Paula King, Law Firms, legal departments failing to embrace innovation, Deloitte survey finds, The Lawyers Daily, June 19, 2017; Canadian legal landscape 2017: Issues and trends facing Canadian in-house counsel and law firms, Deloitte, 2017; Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States, American Bar Association, 2016; Kandy Williams, Is the Legal Profession on the Cusp of Uber-Like Disruption? The ABA Commission’s Report on the Future of Legal Services in the U.S., Montage Legal.com, October 25, 2016 –  Noting the legal profession has not “fully harnessed the power of technology to improve the delivery of legal services”; William Vogeler, Are Law Firms Embracing AI? Not So Much, Survey Concludes, Technologist, FindLaw.com, July 11, 2017; ‘Embrace AI and Legal Tech’ – English Law Soc Head Urges World’s Lawyers, Artificial Lawyer, September 23, 2016.

[160] Legal Services Board (Enterprise Research Centre), Innovation in Legal Services: A Report for the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Legal Services Board, 2015; Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; ABSs Leading the Way on Information Technology, CLC BLOG (Apr. 13, 2016) [http://www.conveyancer.org.uk/CLC-Blog/April-2016/ABSs-Leading-the-Way-on-InformationTechnology.aspx].

[161] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013.

[162] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017. Also see: ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, April 8, 2016 [Memorandum for Comment: from the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, to, ABA Entities, Courts, Bar Associations (State, Local, Specialty & International), Law Schools, Disciplinary Agencies, Individual Clients, Client Entities].

[163] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013.

[164] Mark Cohen, Goodbye Guild – Law’s Changing Culture, Forbes, July 3, 2017.

[165] Professional Services Market Global Report 2017, The Business Research Company.com; Law Firms Face Increasing Competition from Non-Traditional Sources, SB Wire.com, October 30, 2017.

[166] Michael Rynowecer, Exactly When, Where and How the Big 4 Will Steal Your Firm’s Best Clients, LinkedIn, October 5, 2017. Also see, Stephen Poor, Big Four vs. BigLaw: The Race to Change Legal Services Delivery, Big Law Business.com, October 5, 2017.

[167] James Bible, Why do law firms find innovation so difficult, Legal Business World.com, October 6, 2016.

[168] Professor Johnathan T. Molot, What’s Wrong with Law Firms? A Corporate Finance Solution to Law Firm Short-Termism, Southern California Law Review 2015; Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013; Ralph Baxter, Looking at the Law Firm Partnership Model and How to Fix it, Thomson Reuters, February 25, 2015; William D. Henderson, More Complex than Greed, The American Lawyer (AxiomLaw.com), May 29, 2012; John Kelly, Partnership Impediment to Innovation in Law “The PIIL Factor” A Future Law Perspective, Linkedin.com May 19, 2015; Jordan Furlong, The lawyer vs. the law firm, CBA National Magazine, Fall 2016; International Bar Association, ‘Times are a-changin’: disruptive innovation and the legal profession, IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit, May 2016; Beverley Spencer, The Innovation Game, CBA National Magazine, Spring 2017, page 30; 2017 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com (“we see firms making only cursory investments where they should be aiming for broader, deeper transformation. And still many partners resist change in all its forms”); 2016 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com; 2015 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com – Law Firms in Transition Survey – the survey was conducted in March and April 2015. It polled managing partners and chairs at 320 US law firms employing 50 or more lawyers, including 47 per cent of the 350 largest law firms in the US: Thomas S Clay and Eric A Seeger, ‘Law Firms in Transition Survey’ (Altman Weil, 2015).

[169] Ralph Baxter, Looking at the Law Firm Partnership Model and How to Fix it, Thomson Reuters, February 25, 2015 [http://legalexecutiveinstitute.com/looking-at-the-law-firm-partnership-model-how-to-fix-it-by-ralph-baxter/]; Professor Johnathan T. Molot, What’s Wrong with Law Firms? A Corporate Finance Solution to Law Firm Short-Termism, Southern California Law Review 2015; William D. Henderson, More Complex than Greed, The American Lawyer (AxiomLaw.com), May 29, 2012; John Kelly, Partnership Impediment to Innovation in Law “The PIIL Factor” A Future Law Perspective, Linkedin.com May 19, 2015; Jordan Furlong, The lawyer vs. the law firm, CBA National Magazine, Fall 2016; International Bar Association, ‘Times are a-changin’: disruptive innovation and the legal profession, IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit, May 2016; Beverley Spencer, The Innovation Game, CBA National Magazine, Spring 2017, page 30; 2017 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com (“we see firms making only cursory investments where they should be aiming for broader, deeper transformation. And still many partners resist change in all its forms”); 2016 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com; 2015 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com – Law Firms in Transition Survey – the survey was conducted in March and April 2015. It polled managing partners and chairs at 320 US law firms employing 50 or more lawyers, including 47 per cent of the 350 largest law firms in the US: Thomas S Clay and Eric A Seeger, ‘Law Firms in Transition Survey’ (Altman Weil, 2015).  Note:

Some leading experts have suggested that many issues affecting corporate clients is due to the law firm’s “outdated partnership model”, a “poor institutional choice for the delivery of legal services in today’s legal market.” The main reason is that the traditional model encourages partners to fixate on short-term gains rather than the long-term success of the firm.  For example:

  • A law firm partnership is proprietary. Partners consider themselves first and foremost as proprietors of banks of clients and books of business. Their loyalty and commitment to the law firm is only as good as the law firm is able to sustain an environment for them that’s conducive to maximization of billings.
  • Partners under invest in law firms. Their primary interest, often to the point of obsession, is to draw down the maximum allowable amount of income on the monthly basis that’s been apportioned to them by the firm Partnership represents a personal entitlement rather than a professional commitment to an organization. The law firm is just a shell like umbrella that is used to market their expertise and manage their client services.
  • Law Firms in Transition Survey, conducted in 2015 revealed that 72.4 per cent of law firm leaders in the United States believe that the pace of change within the profession is increasing. However, 45 per cent of law firms surveyed cited partner resistance as one of the reasons for their firms not doing more to change their practices in order to compete. This was confirmed again in the 2016 survey.
  • This is the “war that’s been raging within law firms”, the fight for control of the business between individual Partners and the law firm leadership, with the firm looking long term and the Partner level lawyer looking short term and with a ‘self-interest’.

[170] John Kelly, Partnership Impediment to Innovation in Law “The PIIL Factor” A Future Law Perspective, Linkedin.com May 19, 2015; Jordan Furlong, The lawyer vs. the law firm, CBA National Magazine, Fall 2016; Andrew Strickler, BigLaw’s New Bosses Will have Skills to Pay the Bills, Law360, February 19, 2013; David Perla, Democracy and Law Firm Leadership, Above the Law, July 26, 2016; Jeffrey Lowe, BigLaw 2016: A Look Ahead, Law360, January 12, 2016.

“In place of partners and committees, firm leadership roles will fall to “C-suite” executives with titles like “Chief Innovation Officer,” who will evaluate 10- and 20-year technology and cultural trends. CFOs and COOs will plan yearly capital investments and make day-to-day operational calls… In the process, experts say, firms will shed the inherent weaknesses of legal partnerships — slow, incremental committee decision-making, often thin management experience, easy dissolution, short-term planning — and replace it with a truly corporatized American law firm.

Many firms have in recent years modified parts of their business to better mimic other professional service businesses, such as implementing fixed fees, hiring non-lawyer CEOs, and outsourcing. Others are moving more aggressively to a corporate hierarchy they argue is better adapted for the overall survival of the business, rather than propped up by tradition to appease individual partners…. Many managing partners have had time since 2008 to realize that downward profit trends and changing attitudes about the value of legal services necessitate a stricter business discipline, and how more top down control can help make it happen.

In addition to the benefits of stability and cost controls, … flat-fee pricing and a de-emphasis of individual partners makes the firm’s business more understandable and appealing to clients who themselves work within a corporate structure.”

[171] Georgetown Law and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor, 2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market, Managing Partner Forum.org, March 17, 2017.

[172] Neil Rose, PwC: New business structures and capital will allow big law firms to deliver ‘fundamental change’, Legal Futures.co.uk, October 16, 2017; PwC, 26th Annual Law Firm’s Survey: Time for change – PwC Law Firms’ Survey 2017, PwC.co.uk, 2017.

[173] James M. McCauley, The Future of the Practice of Law: Can Alternative Business Structures for the Legal Profession Improve Access to Legal Services?, 51 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online, 2016.

[174] Noel Semple, Access to Justice: Is Legal Services Regulation Blocking the Path?, Scholarship at UWindsor, Faculty of Law Publications, 2013.

[175] Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016.

[176] Canadian Bar Association, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014; Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015; Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999.

[177] Related to this main concern are additional motivations such as the protection of the effective administration of justice, the fact that only lawyers are subject to special ethical regulations and a system of professional discipline, and a minimization of competitive practices among lawyers.

[178] Matthew Longobardi, Unauthorized Practice of Law and Meaningful Access to the Courts: Is Law Too Important to be Left to Lawyers?, 35 Cardozo Law Review 2043, 2014; Deborah L. Rhode, Policing the Professional Monopoly: A Constitutional and Empirical Analysis of Unauthorized Practice Prohibitions, 34 Stanford Law Review 1, 1981 (stating that if enforcement of UPL rules are in the public’s interest “the public has remained curiously unsupportive of the war effort”).

[179] Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999.

[180] Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999.

[181] Deborah L. Rhode, Policing the Professional Monopoly: A Constitutional and Empirical Analysis of Unauthorized Practice Prohibitions, 34 Stanford Law Review 1, 1981 (stating that if enforcement of UPL rules are in the public’s interest “the public has remained curiously unsupportive of the war effort”).

[182] Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015. Also see, Bob Goodman and Josh Harder, Four Areas of Legal Ripe for disruption by Smart Startups, Law Technology Today, December 16, 2014:

“In 50 years, the customer experience at most law firms has barely changed. If you needed legal advice in the ‘60s, you generally went to a nice building and met a lawyer in a suit who would then review your issue, conduct research, and bill you an hourly rate. But even with today’s modern communication tools, both customer experience and lawyer workflow have remained stagnant”.

[183] Jeff Gray, Let non-lawyers own law firms: Canadian Bar Association, Globe and Mail, August 14, 2014.

[184] CBA Legal Futures initiative, Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, August 2014.

[185] Jeff Gray, Let non-lawyers own law firms: Canadian Bar Association, Globe and Mail, August 14, 2014 – “Quebec already allows professional corporations practising law to be partly owned by non-lawyers, provided lawyers hold a majority stake.”

[186] Mitch Kowalski, ABS in Ontario Killed by the Foul Stench of Protectionism, Slaw, September 28, 2015. Also see, Neil Rose, The Foul Stench of Protectionism, Legal Futures, September 29, 2015.

[187] See, Alternative Business Structures, Law Society of Upper Canada – lsuc.on.ca/ABS/:

“The Law Society’s ABS Working Group was formed in September 2012 to explore various possible options available for the delivery of legal services. It has engaged in extensive research since its formation, including meetings with lawyers and paralegals, consulting with experts and reviewing research and related literature.

In September 2014, it released a discussion paper and sought input from the professions and other stakeholders.

In September 2015, the ABS Working Group delivered an interim report to Convocation outlining its initial assessment and the directions it will consider further. http://www.wowogallery.com/40tdsx3kpj At that time the Working Group decided not to continue to consider structures involving majority ownership, or control, of traditional law firms by non-licensees. Through its research and consultations, the Working Group considers that the experience to date in other jurisdictions does not show that the benefits of majority non-licensee ownership, or control, outweigh regulatory concerns.  …

The Working Group is continuing to consider minority ownership by non-licensees and franchise models, and new forms of legal service delivery in areas not currently served by traditional practices. It will be reporting further with respect to these issues in due course.”

[188] Amanda Jerome, LSUC panel ignites debate at Convocation over delivery of legal services through civil societies, The Lawyers Daily, July 6, 2017; Michael McKiernan, PI boutiques battle non-lawyer ownership: Alternative Business Structures back on agenda at LSUC, Law Times, August 14, 2017; Charles Gluckstein, Proceed cautiously on ABS, Law Times, September 25, 2017; Alex Robinson, Some Alternative Business Structures approved, Law Times, October 2, 2017:

“Some personal injury lawyers are concerned that new Alternative Business Structure initiatives approved by the Law Society of Upper Canada are the beginning of a slippery slope toward non-lawyer ownership of law firms.”

LSUC Professional Regulation Committee Report, For Decision: Report of the Alternative Business Structures Working Group (delivery of legal services through civil society organizations to facilitate access to justice), 2017.

[189] Access to Justice to be enhanced with the delivery of legal services through civil society organizations, Law Society Gazette.ca, September 28, 2017:

“Convocation approved, in principle, a policy to permit lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services through civil society organizations (CSOs), such as charities and not-for-profit organizations.

The policy is intended to enhance access to justice for individuals who may have legal issues but who have traditionally faced barriers to receiving legal advice from a lawyer or paralegal. Under the new policy, CSOs will be permitted to provide legal services to clients in addition to the services they already provide, such as social and health services. The policy is intended to enable the creation of new inclusive entry points for vulnerable people to find legal services, and integrated service delivery to people facing multiple issues, including legal problems.”

[190] Community Legal Clinics, Legal Aid Ontario [www.legalaid.on.ca/en/contact/contact.asp?type=cl]:

“Legal Aid Ontario funds 76 community legal clinics throughout the province. Thirteen of these clinics provide specialty legal services.

Each is a non-profit legal centre, governed by an independant board of directors representative of the community it serves. Clinics employ lawyers, legal workers, paralegals and administrative staff to provide information, legal advice and representation.”

[191] Amanda Jerome, LSUC panel ignites debate at Convocation over delivery of legal services through civil societies, The Lawyers Daily, July 6, 2017 (quoting Bencher Go); Community Legal Clinics, Legal Aid Ontario [www.legalaid.on.ca/en/contact/contact.asp?type=cl].

[192]Average and median salaries in community legal clinics and Legal Aid Ontario, Legal Aid Ontario [http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/about/communityclinics_comparators.asp], May 2015:

“Community legal clinics are independent non-profit corporations funded by LAO to provide poverty law services. They are governed by an independent board of directors who are representative of the community they serve.

Clinic boards are fully responsible for the governance and management of their clinics including establishing compensation systems for their staff.”

[193] Alex Robinson, Some Alternative Business Structures approved, Law Times, October 2, 2017:

“Some personal injury lawyers are concerned that new Alternative Business Structure initiatives approved by the Law Society of Upper Canada are the beginning of a slippery slope toward non-lawyer ownership of law firms.

LSUC benchers approved a motion at their September meeting to allow non-profits and charities to provide legal services through practitioners. The changes will allow non-profits and charities to employ lawyers to provide legal services directly to clients rather than referring them out. … ‘We certainly want to see greater access to justice for those in need, and this model could help with that laudable goal.’”

Michael McKiernan, PI boutiques battle non-lawyer ownership: Alternative Business Structures back on agenda at LSUC, Law Times, August 14, 2017; Charles Gluckstein, Proceed cautiously on ABS, Law Times, September 25, 2017.

[194] Mary Juetten, Future Law: Reflecting on Access to Justice, Forbes, June 21, 2017.

[195] Mark Cohen, Global Legal Tech is Transforming Service Delivery, Forbes, August 29, 2017. Also see, ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 2-4 and Recommendation #2; Eric Sigurdson, The Global Corporate Legal Market: Rise of the Big Four Accounting Firms as an alternative legal services delivery model – from ‘multidisciplinary’ professional service firms to ‘globally integrated’ business solution providers, Sigurdson Post, March 27, 2017; David B. Wilkins and Maria Jose Esteban, The Reemergence of the Big Four in Law: their rise, transformation, and potential triumph, The Practice (Vol. 2, Issue 2), Harvard Law School: Center on the Legal Profession (thepractice.law.harvard.edu), January 2016 — citing the core values of the legal profession—conflict of interest, independence, and client privilege—in 2000/2001 the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates rejected the recommendation of its own Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice that the Model Rules of Professional Conduct be amended to permit integrated MDPs such as the ‘then’ Big Five’s legal networks. Recently the American Bar Association’s 2020 Commission on the Future of Professional Regulation debated and again rejected a proposal to allow MDPs that would support the ‘now’ Big Four, although in Recommendation #2 suggesting that “continued exploration of alternative business structures (ABS) will be useful, and where ABS is allowed, evidence and data regarding the risks and benefits associated with these entities should be developed and assessed”.  See, Reid Trautz, Will Alternative Business Structures Fly?, Attorney at Work.com (U.S.), September 27, 2016:

“What’s the Solution?

So will the profession change the rules and allow ABSs? We live in a state-bar world. There are 51 jurisdictions regulating lawyers. That means 51 different regulatory systems creating 51 ABS ownership variations. That means 51 state bar decisions on whether or not to allow ABSs followed by 51 decisions by state supreme courts or legislatures. With most state bars led by solo and small-firm lawyers, it will take years for the states to decide these issues.

While the legal profession ignores or defers the issue, unauthorized forms of ABSs will quietly infiltrate the market. These businesses — backed by non-lawyer investors — are already delivering legal services. While most lawyers can easily name one or two of these companies, there are hundreds more in development. If our profession can’t find the time to decide whether or not to allow ABSs, how are we going to unite to fight these unauthorized businesses?

The solution lies in simultaneously allowing ABSs, while expanding regulation to all legal services providers. That is the only way to expand the delivery of legal services, protect consumers, and maintain the integrity of the legal profession.

We need to address it now. To do nothing would leave lawyers at a huge competitive disadvantage and fundamentally change the legal profession as we know it today — and that’s just what non-lawyers are hoping we do.”

[196] Malcolm Mercer, Unmet Legal Needs – the Challenge to Legal Practice and to Self-Regulation, Slaw, July 13, 2016. Also see, James E. Moliterno, The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change, Oxford University Press, 2013 at p. 165.

[197] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017.

[198] Richard Devlin and Ora Morison, Access to Justice and the Ethics and Politics of Alternative Business Structures, 91:3 Canadian Bar Review 483, at 494, 2012.

[199] Robert Mysicka, Who Watches the Watchmen? The Role of the Self-Regulator, Commentary No. 416, C.D. Howe Institute, October 2014; United Kingdom, Monopolies Commission, Part I: The Report (1970), quoted in Manitoba Law Reform Commission (1994).

[200] OECD Policy Roundtables: Competitive Restrictions in Legal Professions, OECD Competition Committee, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007. Also see, Self-Regulated Professions – Balancing Competition and Regulation Report, Competition Bureau.gc.ca, 2007.

[201] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017.

[202] Professor Johnathan T. Molot, What’s Wrong with Law Firms? A Corporate Finance Solution to Law Firm Short-Termism, Southern California Law Review 2015; Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013; Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Ralph Baxter, Looking at the Law Firm Partnership Model and How to Fix it, Thomson Reuters, February 25, 2015; William D. Henderson, More Complex than Greed, The American Lawyer (AxiomLaw.com), May 29, 2012; John Kelly, Partnership Impediment to Innovation in Law “The PIIL Factor” A Future Law Perspective, Linkedin.com May 19, 2015; Jordan Furlong, The lawyer vs. the law firm, CBA National Magazine, Fall 2016; International Bar Association, ‘Times are a-changin’: disruptive innovation and the legal profession, IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit, May 2016; Beverley Spencer, The Innovation Game, CBA National Magazine, Spring 2017, page 30; 2017 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com (“we see firms making only cursory investments where they should be aiming for broader, deeper transformation. And still many partners resist change in all its forms”); 2016 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com; 2015 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com – Law Firms in Transition Survey – the survey was conducted in March and April 2015. It polled managing partners and chairs at 320 US law firms employing 50 or more lawyers, including 47 per cent of the 350 largest law firms in the US: Thomas S Clay and Eric A Seeger, ‘Law Firms in Transition Survey’ (Altman Weil, 2015).

[203] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017.

[204] Robert Mysicka, Who Watches the Watchmen? The Role of the Self-Regulator, Commentary No. 416, C.D. Howe Institute, October 2014.

[205] Office of Fair Trading, Competition in Professions: A Report by the Director General of Fair Trading, March 2001 (UK).

[206] Polly Botsford, Forecasting the creative impact of alternative business structures on law, The Law Society Gazette (UK), April 7, 2011.

[207] Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016; Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Benjamin H. Barton and Stephanos Bibas, Rebooting Justice: More Technology, Fewer Lawyers and the Future of Law, Encounter Books, 2017; Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013; Candace M. Groth, Protecting the Profession Through the Pen: A Proposal for Liberalizing ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 5.4 to Allow Multidisciplinary Firms, 37 Hamline L. Rev. 565, 2014; Gillian K. Hadfield, The Cost of Law: Promoting Access to Justice through the (Un) Corporate Practice of Law, 38 Int’l Rev. L. & Econ. 43 (2014);  Renee Newman Knake, Democratizing the Delivery of Legal Services, 73 Ohio St. L.J. 1, 3 (2012);  Noel Semple, Access to Justice: Is Legal Services Regulation Blocking the Path?, Scholarship at UWindsor, Faculty of Law Publications, 2013; James M. McCauley, The Future of the Practice of Law: Can Alternative Business Structures for the Legal Profession Improve Access to Legal Services?, 51 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online, 2016; Jayne Reardon, The Disruption of Alternative Business Structures, 2 Civility.org, April 11, 2017; Noel Semple, Legal Services Regulation in Canada: Plus Ca Change?, Scholarship at UWindsor, Faculty of Law Publications, Spring 2017; Richard Devlin and Ora Morison, Access to Justice and the Ethics and Politics of Alternative Business Structures, 91:3 Canadian Bar Review 483, 2012; Deborah L. Rhode, Reforming American Legal Education and Legal Practice: Rethinking Licensing Structures and the Role of Nonlawyers in Delivering and Financing Legal Services, Legal Ethics, Volume 16, Part 2, 2013; David Wiseman, Poverty Law, the Future of Legal Services and Access to Justice: Towards ABS, 3:1 Canadian Journal of Poverty Law 10, 2015; Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999; Deborah L. Rhode, Policing the Professional Monopoly: A Constitutional and Empirical Analysis of Unauthorized Practice Prohibitions, 34 Stanford Law Review 1 , 1981.

[208] Robert Heslett, What alternative business structures mean for the legal profession, The Guardian, June 9, 2010.

[209] Richard Devlin and Ora Morison, Access to Justice and the Ethics and Politics of Alternative Business Structures, 91:3 Canadian Bar Review 483, at 488-89, 2012; Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015.

[210] CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014. Also see, Jeff Gray, Let non-lawyers own law firms: Canadian Bar Association, Globe and Mail, August 14, 2014.

[211] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013; Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; Chandler N. Hodge, Law Firms in the U.S.: To Go Public or Not to Go Public?, 34 U. Dayton L. Rev. 79, 2008 (labeling the ABA’s resistance as a “ABA’s medieval guild mentality” which has created an inefficient cartel in the practice of law and engaged in regulatory capture of the legal industry which represents 2% of U.S. GDP); Brian MacEwen et al., Law Firm, Ethics, and Equity Capital, 21 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 61, 2008 (“Firms have grown substantially, with many containing more than one thousand lawyers.”).

[212] Note: “economic protectionism” is usually expressed in more lofty terms of conflict of interest, independence, protection of the public/client, and client privilege. For example, see ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 9-10 (“any form of nonlawyer ownership or management threatens lawyers’ “core values”, particularly independent judgement and loyalty to clients”; Memorandum from the Ontario Trial Lawyer Association to the Law Society of Ontario Alternative Business Structures Working Group on Alternative Business Structures 2, 34 (Dec. 15, 2014). Also see, Mary Jutten, Technology and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Law Technology Today, June 12, 2015:

“Unauthorized Practice of Law rules are designed to protect the public interest, not protect lawyers from competition.”

[213] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017.

[214] Gavin and Brooke MacKenzie, Should lawyers have a monopoly over the provision of legal services?, CBA National, Winter 2016; Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015. Also see,

[215] Richard Devlin and Porter Heffernan, The End(s) of Self Regulation?, Alberta Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 5, 2008.

[216] Robert Mysicka, Who Watches the Watchmen? The Role of the Self-Regulator, Commentary No. 416, C.D. Howe Institute, October 2014. Also see, Self-Regulated Professions – Balancing Competition and Regulation Report, Competition Bureau.gc.ca, 2007; OECD Policy Roundtables: Competitive Restrictions in Legal Professions, OECD Competition Committee, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007. Also see, Self-Regulated Professions – Balancing Competition and Regulation Report, Competition Bureau.gc.ca, 2007:

“While self-regulation allows for quality standards to be set by professionals who may be better informed than lay public authorities, this advantage may be outweighed by the harm from the potential for anti-competitive restrictions.”

[217] James Moliterno, The Trouble with Lawyer Regulation, Emory Law Journal, Vol. 62, page 101, May 13, 2013.

[218] Robert Mysicka, Who Watches the Watchmen? The Role of the Self-Regulator, Commentary No. 416, C.D. Howe Institute, October 2014.

[219] James E. Moliterno, The Trouble with Lawyer Regulation, 62 Emory Law Journal 885, 2013; Richard Devlin and Porter Heffernan, The End(s) of Self Regulation?, Alberta Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 5, 2008; Paul Douglas Paton, ‘In the Public Interest’: Threats to Self-Regulation of the Legal Profession in Ontario, 1998-2006, Dissertation submitted to School of Law and Committee of Graduate Studies of Stanford University re Degree of Doctor of the Science of Law, February 2008; Fred Zacharias, The Myth of Self-Regulation, Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 93, July 2009.

[220] James Moliterno, The Trouble with Lawyer Regulation, 62 Emory Law Journal 885, 2013. Also see, James E. Moliterno, The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change, Oxford University Press, 2013.

[221] Neil Rickman and James Anderson, Innovations in the Provision of Legal Services in the United States: An Overview for Policymakers, Kauffman-Rand Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy, 2011. Also see, Laurel Terry, The European Commission Project Regarding Competition in Professional Services, 29 Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business 1, 2009; Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015.

[222] The legal profession’s regulators in the U.S. and Canada:

Malcolm Mercer, Unmet Legal Needs – the Challenge to Legal Practice and to Self-Regulation, Slaw, July 13, 2016:

“Canadian law societies are authorized by provincial legislatures to decide who can practice law and provide legal services. The substantial majority of the governors of the law societies are lawyers elected by lawyers. In Ontario, paralegal benchers are elected by regulated paralegals.

In England and Wales, the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board are the regulators. The majority of the governors of these regulators are not solicitors or barristers.

In the United States, the state courts are the regulators. While lawyers have an active role, the courts are the ultimate decision-makers. The American Bar Association plays an interesting role in the U.S. context. The ABA is not a regulator, rather is “the national representative of the legal profession”. As a voluntary bar association, the ABA is governed by its House of Delegates. The ABA promulgates its Model Code of Professional Responsibility which is the starting point for the rules adopted in most states. The ABA plays an important harmonizing role with respect to legal education and legal ethics.”

Benjamin Barton, The Lawyer’s Monopoly – What Goes and What Stays, 82 Fordham Law Review 3067, 2014:

“State supreme courts control lawyer regulation in all fifty states. …

State supreme court inherent authority over lawyer regulation has been predictably advantageous to lawyers. …

Generally speaking, state supreme courts have not proven particularly interested in the nuts and bolts of lawyer regulation. As a result, they have either formally or informally delegated much of their regulatory authority to bar associations. For example, the ABA drafts the rules of professional responsibility in the first instance and, in unified bar states, the bar associations run most aspects of lawyer regulation.

Thus, American lawyers have a unique claim to self-regulation. All other professions, from doctors to hairdressers, are regulated in the first instance by state legislatures. Lawyers, by contrast, are regulated by other lawyers—the justices of their state supreme courts.”

[223] Malcolm Mercer, Conflicted Regulation in the Public Interest, Slaw, August 28, 2017. Also see, Malcolm Mercer, Unmet Legal Needs – the Challenge to Legal Practice and to Self-Regulation, Slaw, July 13, 2016; Drew Hasselback, Why that proposal to let non-lawyers own Canadian law firms is probably toast, Financial Post, August 12, 2015:

“Some regulators, among them Ontario’s Law Society of Upper Canada, are studying what lawyers call “alternative business structures” or ABS. But no one is going to get arrested for speeding too fast on ABS. …

Rejection may be a forgone conclusion. Last April [2015], Ontario lawyers elected the 40 representatives or “benchers” who will govern LSUC until 2019. Of the winners, at least 25 were on a list of anti-ABS candidates distributed by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. The OTLA has been actively campaigning against ABS.”

[224] Malcolm Mercer, Unmet Legal Needs – the Challenge to Legal Practice and to Self-Regulation, Slaw, July 13, 2016.

[225] Deborah L. Rhode, Reforming American Legal Education and Legal Practice: Rethinking Licensing Structures and the Role of Nonlawyers in Delivering and Financing Legal Services, Legal Ethics, Volume 16, Part 2, 2013. See, Alternative Business Structures, Law Society of Upper Canada – lsuc.on.ca/ABS/:

“The Law Society’s ABS Working Group was formed in September 2012 to explore various possible options available for the delivery of legal services. It has engaged in extensive research since its formation, including meetings with lawyers and paralegals, consulting with experts and reviewing research and related literature.

In September 2014, it released a discussion paper and sought input from the professions and other stakeholders.

In September 2015, the ABS Working Group delivered an interim report to Convocation outlining its initial assessment and the directions it will consider further. At that time the Working Group decided not to continue to consider structures involving majority ownership, or control, of traditional law firms by non-licensees. Through its research and consultations, the Working Group considers that the experience to date in other jurisdictions does not show that the benefits of majority non-licensee ownership, or control, outweigh regulatory concerns.”

Also see, Laura Snyder, Modernizing Legal Services in Common Law Countries: Will the US be Left Behind?, Lexington Books, August 2017; Ken Chasse, Legal Advice Services Cannot be Automated by Alternative Business Structures, Slaw, October 9, 2014; Mark Cohen, Why US Legal Regulation Needs a British Makeover, Forbes, October 17, 2016; Mithch Kowalski, ABS in Ontario Killed by the Foul Stench of Protectionism, Slaw, September 28, 2015; Noel Semple, ABS: What horrors within?, CBA National, December 4, 2014; Stephen Mabey, Speaker’s Corner: OTLA’s ABS submission couches own interest as protecting the public, Law Times, March 2, 2015; Michael McKiernan, PI boutiques battle non-lawyer ownership: Alternative Business Structures back on agenda at LSUC, Law Times, August 14, 2017; David Gialanella, Avvo, LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer Declared Off-Limits, Law.com, June 22, 2017; George Conk, Avvo, Rocket Lawyer, LegalZoom Blocked by New Jersy Supreme Court Ethics Committees, Contemporary Professional Responsibility, June 22, 2017; Robert Ambrogi, Latest legal victory has LegalZoom poised for growth, ABA Journal, August 1, 2014 (ie. “In recent years, LegalZoom has faced lawsuits in eight states seeking to shut it down for violating state laws barring the unauthorized practice of law. But with a notable recent victory in South Carolina, and having fended off all but one of the other lawsuits, LegalZoom is anything but shutting down”); Karen Rubin, LegalZoom: unauthorized practice? Or new legal services model?, Lexology, August 14, 2014; Mary Juetten and Billie Tarascio, Technology and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Law Technology Today, June 12, 2015; Caroline Brown, LegalZoom: Closing the Justice Gap or Unauthorized Practice of Law?, North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology, May 2016; Neil Rose, The Foul Stench of Protectionism, Legal Futures, September 29, 2015.

[226] For example: hourly billing at best leads to inefficient practices, at worst it rewards and incentivises inefficiency. The hourly billing model ensures, to some degree, a law firm’s financial interests are opposite of those of its clients. Working inefficiently means more money coming in on a given file.

[227] Deborah L. Rhode, Reforming American Legal Education and Legal Practice: Rethinking Licensing Structures and the Role of Nonlawyers in Delivering and Financing Legal Services, Legal Ethics, Volume 16, Part 2, 2013; CLOC Founder, Connie Brenton, on AI and Legal Sector Change, Artificial Lawyer, September 26, 2017; Laurel Rigertas, The Legal Profession’s Monopoly: Failing to Protect Consumers, 82 Fordham Law Review 2683, 2014; Nancy Moore, The Future of Law as a Profession, 20 Chapman Law Review 255, 2017; Benjamin Barton, The Lawyer’s Monopoly – What Goes and What Stays, 82 Fordham Law Review 3067, 2014.

[228] Malcolm Mercer, Unmet Legal Needs – the Challenge to Legal Practice and to Self-Regulation, Slaw, July 13, 2016; Alice Woolley, Bencher Elections – the Challenge to Self-Regulations Legitimacy, Slaw, April 30, 2015; Drew Hasselback, Why that proposal to let non-lawyers own Canadian law firms is probably toast, Financial Post, August 12, 2015; Cristin Schmitz, ABS issue dominating bencher vote, The Lawyers Weekly, April 17, 2015.

[229] Cristin Schmitz, ABS issue dominating bencher vote, The Lawyers Weekly, April 17, 2015.

[230] Thom Harrison, What’s in a Name? – Facts and Fallacies in the LSUC Debate 2017, Politics, Law and Life.blogspot.ca, October 1, 2017.

[231] Drew Hasselback, Why that proposal to let non-lawyers own Canadian law firms is probably toast, Financial Post, August 12, 2015.

[232] Lee Akazaki, How origins of ABS in U.K. and Australian Law differ from Canada, leeakazaki.com, 2014.

[233] Malcolm Mercer, Conflicted Regulation in the Public Interest, Slaw, August 28, 2017.

[234] Alice Woolley, Bencher Elections – the Challenge to Self-Regulations Legitimacy, Slaw, April 30, 2015.

[235]Review of the Regulatory Framework for Legal Services in England and Wales: Final Report” by Sir David Clementi, (December 2004).

[236] Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999.

[237] Honourable Wayne Martin (Chief Justice of Western Australia), The Future of Regulation the Legal Profession: Is the Profession Over Regulated?, Conference of Regulatory Officers (Perth, Western Australia), September 16, 2009; Honourable JJ. Spigelman, AC, Are Lawyers Lemons?: Competition Principles and Professional Regulation, 2003 ALJ 44; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), The Emergence of Alternative Business Structures in Other Jurisdictions, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014:

“In 2003, the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain asked Sir David Clementi, an accountant and former Director of the Bank of England, to recommend a regulatory framework for the legal services market that would promote competition, innovation, and the public and consumer interest in an efficient, effective and independent legal sector. This request was a response to perceived issues with the Bar’s handling of disciplinary complaints and its insulation from competition. Before Mr. Clementi’s appointment, the Office of Fair Trading had issued a White Paper that was critical of the Bar’s practices.

Mr. Clementi identified the following goals for his review, which are reflected in the legislation:

  • maintaining the rule of law;
  • access to justice;
  • protection and promotion of consumer interests;
  • promotion of competition in the provision of services;
  • encouragement of an independent, confident, strong and effective legal profession;
  • promoting public understanding of a citizen’s legal rights and duties; and
  • promoting and maintaining adherence (by authorized persons) to the professional principles.

[238] Honourable Wayne Martin (Chief Justice of Western Australia), The Future of Regulation the Legal Profession: Is the Profession Over Regulated?, Conference of Regulatory Officers (Perth, Western Australia), September 16, 2009.

[239] Drew Hasselback, The unkillable billable hour: How Canadian corporations are clinging to legal business ‘poison’, National Post, March 6, 2015; Paul M. Barrett, How Billable Hours Changed the Legal Profession, Bloomberg, December 4, 2014; Leigh McMullan Abramson, Is the Billable Hour Obsolete?: Clients are getting fed up with being charged high rates for six-minute increments of time, The Atlantic, October 15, 2015; Ben Jackson, Billable Hour Transforms the Legal Profession, Lexisnexis.com, April 18, 2012; Ronald Rotunda, The Problem of Inflating Billable Hours, Verdict.Justia.com, November 17, 2014; Elie Mystal, How Many Billable Hours Do You Have to Work Before You are ‘Busy’?, Above the Law, April 16, 2012; Bell Starting to Toll on Billable Hour, Canadian Lawyer, July 21, 2013; Ralph Baxter, The inherent client conflict of interest caused by hours-based billing, Canadian Lawyer, March 16, 2015; Joe Borstein, Competition is for Losers: The Rise of Atrium, Above the Law, September 27, 2017:

“Ponder for a moment, what I call “the legal innovation paradox”: in a billable hour regime, efficiency reduces profit. (Let’s call it “The Paradox,” if you are into the whole brevity thing).

Anyone who has worked in Biglaw holds this truth to be self-evident: the more time spent on a task, the more revenue and profit flow to the law firm. In such a regime, how can innovative legal companies (which reduce time spent on tasks) encourage law firms to adopt them?  As a warrior on the front lines of that battle in my day job, I can tell you that it’s quite difficult.”

Also see, Bank of Nova Scotia v. Diemer, 2014 ONCA 851 (CanLII)– Madam Justice Sarah Pepall, Ontario Court of Appeal:

“There is something inherently troubling about a billing system that pits a lawyer’s financial interest against that of its client and that has built-in incentives for inefficiency. The billable hour model has both of these undesirable features.”

[240] Derek Denckla, Nonlawyers and the Unauthorized Practice of Law: An overview of the legal and ethical parameters, 67 Fordham Law Review 2581, 1999.

[241] Mary E. Juetten, How can technology solve our access to justice crisis?, ABA Journal, September 8, 2017. Also see, Malcolm Mercer, Being in Favour of Reform, Just Not Change, Slaw, February 26, 2014 (“Should we care about the 85% of legal needs that are not addressed by lawyers? … The next question is why are lawyers used for less than 15% of legal needs?”); Dr. George Beaton, 10 reasons BigLaw managing partners are not sleeping very well, Beaton Capital, August 15, 2015 (Lawyers are increasingly unaffordable to most individuals: Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet.  Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length.  Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems. Increasingly, these needs are being addressed by providers outside the legal profession, including those within the early resolution services sector.); Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015:

“Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. Nearly 12 million Canadians will experience at least one legal problem in a given three-year period, yet few will have the resources to solve them. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet. We all know that unresolved legal problems adversely affect people’s lives and, ultimately, the public purse. Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length. Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems, and legal problems tend to lead to problems of other types, such as health issues.”

[242] Note: “economic protectionism” is usually expressed in more lofty terms of conflict of interest, independence, protection of the public/client, and client privilege. For example, see ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 9-10 (“any form of nonlawyer ownership or management threatens lawyers’ “core values”, particularly independent judgement and loyalty to clients”; Memorandum from the Ontario Trial Lawyer Association to the Law Society of Ontario Alternative Business Structures Working Group on Alternative Business Structures 2, 34 (Dec. 15, 2014). Also see, Mary Jutten, Technology and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, Law Technology Today, June 12, 2015:

“Unauthorized Practice of Law rules are designed to protect the public interest, not protect lawyers from competition.”

[243] See, Eric Sigurdson, The Global Corporate Legal Market: Rise of the Big Four Accounting Firms as an alternative legal services delivery model – from ‘multidisciplinary’ professional service firms to ‘globally integrated’ business solution providers, Sigurdson Post, March 27, 2017:

“The Big Four are multidisciplinary, that is their business model.  Surprise, surprise – corporate clients and their General Counsel want and need multi-disciplinary approaches to business problems, and many “legal problems” are really business problems. Business problems – especially for large, national and multinational corporations – usually take teams to solve, teams that consist of multiple areas of subject matter experts.”

Katie Walsh, Top Lawyers jump from global law firm to Big Four – and firms are nervous, Financial Review, November 3, 2016.

[244] Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015.

[245] Julius Melnitzer, Accounting Firms in Law: The Long Game, Lexpert.ca, September 11, 2017. Also see, Debra Cassens Weiss, PwC to open US law firm, a sign of increasing focus on legal operations by Big 4 accounting firms, ABA Journal, September 21, 2017 (“Law firm leaders are waking up to the Big Four threat, the ALM report says. Sixty-six percent of partners surveyed said they were concerned about alternative legal service providers and accounting firms, and 64 percent said accounting firms moving into the legal industry was a bigger threat than the expansion of in-house legal departments, e-discovery vendors and legal process outsourcing companies.”); PwC’s new US law firm heightens fears, Financial Review, October 12, 2017; Elizabeth Olson, PwC, the Accounting Giant, Will Open  Law Firm in the US, New York Times, September 22, 2017; Alex Berry, PwC Launches On-Demand Flexible Lawyer Service for Clients, The American Lawyer, October 12, 2017; Eric Sigurdson, The Global Corporate Legal Market: Rise of the Big Four Accounting Firms as an alternative legal services delivery model – from ‘multidisciplinary’ professional service firms to ‘globally integrated’ business solution providers, Sigurdson Post, March 27, 2017.

[246] For example, see: Julius Melnitzer, Accounting Firms in Law: The Long Game, Lexpert.ca, September 11, 2017:

“In the UK, PwC, KPMG, EY and 110 other accounting firms have obtained alternative business structure (ABS) licences, which allow them to offer a … growing spectrum of legal services. The factors enabling this market expansion include changes to legal regulatory frameworks, as the introduction of ABS entities demonstrates, and the globalization of the legal market.”

[247] John Kelly, Partnership Impediment to Innovation in Law “The PIIL Factor” A Future Law Perspective, Linkedin.com May 19, 2015. Also see, Heidi Gardner, Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos, Harvard Business Review Press, January 2017; Kevin Sullivan, Why Collaboration in Law Firms and Other Professional Services is Important, Kevinlsullivan.com, March 3, 2017; Roger Trapp, Working With Others is the Key to Success, Forbes, February 28, 2017.

[248] Julius Melnitzer, Accounting Firms in Law: The Long Game, Lexpert Magazine, September 2017.

[249] Julius Melnitzer, Accounting Firms in Law: The Long Game, Lexpert.ca, September 11, 2017.

[250] Mark Cohen, Global Legal Tech is Transforming Service Delivery, Forbes, August 29, 2017.

[251] Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016. Also see, Mark Cohen, Global Legal Tech is Transforming Service Delivery, Forbes, August 29, 2017.

[252] Mark Cohen, Global Legal Tech is Transforming Service Delivery, Forbes, August 29, 2017.

[253] Julius Melnitzer, Accounting Firms in Law: The Long Game, Lexpert.ca, September 11, 2017.

[254] Insulation of lawyers from non-lawyer influence is a distinctive and access-impeding feature of North American legal services regulation. North America’s insulating regulation sharply limits the types of collaboration which are currently possible (with non-lawyers required to be subordinate). Only licensed lawyers may own or manage law firms, and lawyers are generally forbidden to enter fee-sharing or other arrangements which would subject their professional judgment to the influence of non-lawyers. North American insulating rules include those prohibiting and/or tightly controlling multidisciplinary practice and alternative business structures (e.g. ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, R. 5.4(d)(1); Law Society Act (Ontario) , s. 61.0.1(4)). – See, Noel Semple, Access to Justice: Is Legal Services Regulation Blocking the Path?, Scholarship at UWindsor, Faculty of Law Publications, 2013. Also see, Julius Melnitzer, Accounting Firms in Law: The Long Game, Lexpert.ca, September 11, 2017:

“What hasn’t changed — at least not until recently — is the intransigence of the Canadian legal profession, a tendency most acutely emphasized when the Law Society of Upper Canada turned its back on alternative business structures, an approach not much different from its last-century demands that MDPs be owned by lawyers. ‘The only thing holding the accountants back is the regulatory side, where Canada is a laggard, but sooner or later there will be cracks in that.’”

[255] Noel Semple, Access to Justice: Is Legal Services Regulation Blocking the Path?, Scholarship at UWindsor, Faculty of Law Publications, 2013.

[256] Mitchell Kowalski, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century, 2012. Also see, Altman Weil, 2016 Chief Legal Officer Survey (“lack of innovation in service delivery by law firms”); Mitch Kowalski, McGill study reveals the ‘illusion’ of innovation at Canadian law firms, National Post, January 26, 2017 (“while Canadian law firms talk a good ‘innovation’ game, little innovation is actually taking place”); Aly R Haji, The Illusion of Innovation at Canadian Law Firms, McGill University (Faculty of Management, Supervised by Prof. Karl Moore, mentorship support and guidance from Mike Ross and strategy consultant Juniper), jnper.com, January 2017.

[257] Mark Cohen, Why US Legal Regulation Needs a British Makeover, Forbes, October 17, 2016.

[258] Neil Rickman and James Anderson, Innovations in the Provision of Legal Services in the United States: An Overview for Policymakers, Kauffman-Rand Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy, 2011. Also see, Laurel Terry, The European Commission Project Regarding Competition in Professional Services, 29 Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business 1, 2009; Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015.

[259] In re Op. No. 26 of the Comm. on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, 654 A.2d 1344, 1360–61 (N.J. 1995); Laurel A. Rigertas, The Legal Profession’s Monopoly: Failing to Protect Consumers, 82 Fordham Law Review 2683, 2014.

[260] Alternative Business Structures Have Had A Transformational Impact in Delivering Legal Services, LawTeacher, 2015.

[261] ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 3-7; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014.

[262] Attack of the Bean Counters – Lawyers Beware: the accountants are coming after your business, The Economist, March 19, 2015; Law Society of England and Wales, The Future of Legal Services, January 2016; Law Society of England and Wales, Key facts – Regulatory Regime in England and Wales, Lawsociety.org.uk [www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/risk-compliance/regulation/key-facts-regulatory-regime-england-wales/]; Public Policy, Legal Strategy 101: It’s Time for Law Firms to Re-think Their Business Model, Wharton.upenn.edu, April 29, 2009 (“law firms in Europe and the United Kingdom are now undergoing a period of rapid deregulation … which allows for alternative business structures and non-lawyer ownership of firms”); Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015. Australian Law Reform Commission, Australian Government, Ensuring Professional Integrity: Ethical Obligations and Discovery, Alrc.gov.au; Steve Mark, The Regulatory Framework in Australia, ABA 40th Conference on Professional Responsibility: Regulatory Innovation in England and Wales and Australia – What’s in it for Us, May 29, 2014; CLOC Founder, Connie Brenton, on AI and Legal Sector Change, Artificial Lawyer, September 26, 2017.

[263] Alistair Vigier, Stop being stodgy and embrace non-lawyer ownership, Canadian Lawyer, August 28, 2017.

[264] CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014.

[265] Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777. Also see, ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 7-9; Gillian Hadfield, The Cost of Law: Promoting Access to Justice through the (un)Corporate Practice of Law, 38 International Review of Law and Economics 43, 2014; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014; CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014; Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015.

[266] Jonathan Smithers, Evolution of legal services: The impact of ABS in England & Wales, CBA National, October 26, 2015; Alternative Business Structures Have Had A Transformational Impact in Delivering Legal Services, LawTeacher, 2015.

[267] ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 7-9; Gillian Hadfield, The Cost of Law: Promoting Access to Justice through the (un)Corporate Practice of Law, 38 International Review of Law and Economics 43, 2014; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures in Ontario, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014; CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014; Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015; Neil Rose, PwC: New business structures and capital will allow big law firms to deliver ‘fundamental change’, Legal Futures.co.uk, October 16, 2017; PwC, 26th Annual Law Firm’s Survey: Time for change – PwC Law Firms’ Survey 2017, PwC.co.uk, 2017.

[268] Richard Devlin and Ora Morison, Access to Justice and the Ethics and Politics of Alternative Business Structures, 91:3 Canadian Bar Review 483, 2012; Edward S. Adams, Rethinking the Law Firm Organizational Form and Capitalization Structure, 78 Mo. L. Rev. 777, 2013; Alternative Business Structures Have Had A Transformational Impact in Delivering Legal Services, LawTeacher, 2015; Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014.

[269] Casey Sullivan, Should Business Managers Run Law Firms, Bloomberg Law (Big Law Business.com), October 10, 2017; Gerry Riskin, Lawyers or Business Experts: Who Should Be in Charge?, GerryRiskin.com, October 26, 2017.

[270] Victor Li, Non-lawyer ownership laws in UK allow some firms to thrive, ABA Journal, August 10, 2016.

[271] ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 3-7.

[272] ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 3-7.

A variety of ABS structures exist in other jurisdictions, and they have three principal features that differentiate them from traditional law firms:

  • First, ABS structures allow nonlawyers to hold ownership interests in law firms. The percentage of the nonlawyer ownership interest may be restricted (as in Italy, which permits only 33% ownership by nonlawyers) or unlimited (as in Australia).
  • Second, ABS structures permit investment by nonlawyers. Some jurisdictions permit passive investment, while other jurisdictions permit nonlawyer owners only to the extent that they are actively involved in the business.
  • Third, in some jurisdictions, an ABS can operate as a multidisciplinary practice (MDP), which means that it can provide non-legal services in addition to legal services.

In short, a variety of ABS models exist:

  • Entities that deliver only legal services and in which individuals who are not licensed lawyers are permitted to actively participate in the entities’ operations and have a minority ownership interest;
  • The same as (1), but where there is no limitation on the percentage of nonlawyer ownership;
  • Entities that provide both legal and non-legal services and in which individuals who are not licensed lawyers actively participate in the entities’ operations and are permitted to have a minority ownership interest;
  • Same as (3), but where there is no limitation on the percentage of nonlawyer ownership; and (5) any of the above options but with passive investment by nonlawyers.

[273] ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 3-7 – Singapore now also permits nonlawyer ownership. The Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill 2014, will permit lawyers to own businesses called Legal Disciplinary Practices (LDPs) in which nonlawyers may own up to 25% of the entity.  The bill does not permit MDPs, however; Singapore’s LDPs may only provide legal services.

[274] ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 3-4 – District of Columbia (second category of ABS, see endnote #272) and Washington State (first category of ABS, see endnote #272); John Remsen Jr., Law Firm MDPs (Multi-Disciplinary Practices) and New Delivery Models, LinkedIn.com, November 6, 2017 (“In the US – except for the District of Columbia –  non-law firms are prohibited from providing legal services, and non-lawyers are prohibited from law firm ownership.”).

[275] Ontario, Canada: “MDPs must be effectively controlled by licensed legal professionals and may only provide additional services that support or supplement the licensed activity. Fees may only be shared within an MDP with MDP partners who provide client services” [Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014]. CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014:

“In British Columbia and Ontario, limited non-lawyer ownership is permitted in authorized MDPs and non-lawyers providing services to MDP clients may be partners with lawyers. However, those non-legal services must support or supplement the provision of legal services. The current regulatory restrictions create a number of ethical and/or public policy issues:

  • permitting only lawyers to provide legal services may restrict access to justice, especially where there are unmet needs;
  • limiting the definition of legal services to that which is provided by lawyers, when in reality, the preponderance of legal services are provided by non-lawyers;
  • limiting the way legal services are delivered to what might be called the “professional consultancy” model; and
  • offering little choice other than a consultancy model to lawyers who serve individuals and small enterprises.

If lawyers were freed to provide legal services outside of the professional consultancy model, it would likely be possible to deliver some legal services profitably at a lower cost. There is substantial evidence that both business process and technological innovation can result in effective delivery of some legal services by methods other than spending hours of professional time solving problems. The expertise and capital to bring to market those services which employ such processes and innovation are scarce within today’s legal profession. Closer cooperation with people with business expertise and investment capital will facilitate the innovation the profession needs to better serve Canadians.”

[276] ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 3-4 – District of Columbia (second category of ABS, see endnote #272) and Washington State (first category of ABS, see endnote #272); John Remsen Jr., Law Firm MDPs (Multi-Disciplinary Practices) and New Delivery Models, LinkedIn.com, November 6, 2017 (“In the US – except for the District of Columbia –  non-law firms are prohibited from providing legal services, and non-lawyers are prohibited from law firm ownership.”).

[277] Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014 (In Ontario “licensed lawyers and paralegals in sole practice or in firms owned and controlled by licensed legal professionals may provide legal services in Ontario.”); Jeff Gray, Let non-lawyers own law firms: Canadian Bar Association, Globe and Mail, August 14, 2014 (“Quebec … allows professional corporations practising law to be partly owned by non-lawyers, provided lawyers hold a majority stake.”). https://www.prehistoricsoul.com/nkg3y1jn0yw Note: The Canadian legal system has its foundation in the English common law system. Quebec is the only province with a civil code, which is based on the French Code Napoléon (Napoleonic Code). The rest of Canada are common law provinces. The main difference between the two systems is that in common law provinces, case law — in the form of published judicial opinions — is of primary importance, whereas in civil law systems, codified statutes predominate. But these divisions are not as clear-cut as they might seem. Alongside both systems is a Federal and Provincial legislature that passes new laws and statutes.

[278] Attack of the Bean Counters – Lawyers Beware: the accountants are coming after your business, The Economist, March 19, 2015; ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, For Comment: Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, AmericanBar.org, April 8, 2016, page 3-7 . Also see, David B. Wilkins and Maria Jose Esteban, The Reemergence of the Big Four in Law: their rise, transformation, and potential triumph, The Practice (Vol. 2, Issue 2), Harvard Law School: Center on the Legal Profession (thepractice.law.harvard.edu), January 2016.

[279] John Hyde, Top – 70 firms added to ABS roster, Law Gazette.co.uk, December 19, 2013.

[280] See, Justin D. Petzold, Comment, Firm Offers: Are Publicly Traded Law Firms Abroad Indicative of the Future of the United States Legal Sector?, 2009 Wisconsin Law Review 67, 81–82; John S. Dzienkowski, The Future of Big Law: Alternative Legal Service Providers to Corporate Clients, 82 Fordham Law Review 6, 2014.

[281] Legal Services Act, 2007, c. 29, sch. 13 (Eng.).

[282] David B. Wilkins and Maria Jose Esteban, The Reemergence of the Big Four in Law: their rise, transformation, and potential triumph, The Practice (Vol. 2, Issue 2), Harvard Law School: Center on the Legal Profession (thepractice.law.harvard.edu), January 2016.

[283] Alternative Business Structures Have Had A Transformational Impact in Delivering Legal Services, LawTeacher, 2015.

[284] Legal Services Board (Enterprise Research Centre), Innovation in Legal Services: A Report for the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Legal Services Board, 2015; Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017; ABSs Leading the Way on Information Technology, CLC BLOG (Apr. 13, 2016) [http://www.conveyancer.org.uk/CLC-Blog/April-2016/ABSs-Leading-the-Way-on-InformationTechnology.aspx].  Note: Although law firm innovation is taking place to a degree, adoption of technology in U.S. and Canada is far from comprehensive or universal — 2017 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey, Altamanweil.com; Drew Hasselback, Lawyers not embracing opportunities from technology, Deloitte reports finds, Financial Post, June 6, 2017; Mitch Kowalski, McGill study reveals the ‘illusion’ of innovation at Canadian law firms, National Post, January 26, 2017; Aly R Haji, The Illusion of Innovation at Canadian Law Firms, McGill University (Faculty of Management, Supervised by Prof. Karl Moore, mentorship support and guidance from Mike Ross and strategy consultant Juniper), jnper.com, January 2017; Robert Ambrogi, Survey: Just 7.5% of Firms Using AI, But Half Pursuing Other Innovations, Law Sites, June 7, 2017; William Vogeler, Law Firms Resist Changing Business Model, Despite Growing Competition, FindLaw.com, July 18, 2017; Paula King, Law Firms, legal departments failing to embrace innovation, Deloitte survey finds, The Lawyers Daily, June 19, 2017; Canadian legal landscape 2017: Issues and trends facing Canadian in-house counsel and law firms, Deloitte, 2017; Commission on the Future of Legal Services, Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States, American Bar Association, 2016; Kandy Williams, Is the Legal Profession on the Cusp of Uber-Like Disruption? The ABA Commission’s Report on the Future of Legal Services in the U.S., Montage Legal.com, October 25, 2016 –  Noting the legal profession has not “fully harnessed the power of technology to improve the delivery of legal services”; William Vogeler, Are Law Firms Embracing AI? Not So Much, Survey Concludes, Technologist, FindLaw.com, July 11, 2017; ‘Embrace AI and Legal Tech’ – English Law Soc Head Urges World’s Lawyers, Artificial Lawyer, September 23, 2016.

[285] Mark Cohen and Liam Brown, New players driving value for legal departments, CBA National, October 2, 2017; David Curle, Alternative Legal Service Providers: Changing buyer perception, Thomson Reuters, May 2, 2017; The practice of law—core tasks that require specialized legal expertise, training and skills—is shrinking, and the delivery of legal services—the business of providing integrated legal services—is expanding rapidly. This distinction informs a critically important decision for general counsel specifically and legal consumers generally: engaging the right resource for the right task.

[286] Jonathan Smithers, Evolution of legal services: The impact of ABS in England & Wales, CBA National, October 26, 2015.

[287] Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015.

[288] Neil Rose, Legal Chatbox pioneer receives $1m investment to pursue goal of making access to law free, Legal Futures.co.uk, November 6, 2017:

“DoNotPay – the chatbot that aims to make access to the law free – has received $1.1m (£840,000) in backing from leading Silicon Valley investors, and even some lawyers. …

Mr Browder, currently a student at Stanford University in the US, said the money would be used to tackle more complicated areas of the law. “Divorce, immigration, small claims, property tax and more corporate takedowns are on their way, and perhaps the last app that everyone downloads is the one that solves all of their problems for free.”

He continued: “I am not doing this to make any money whatsoever. As part of the funding (and all future financings), I will take a $1 salary until the law is free for everyone in America [and the UK].

“Of course, we are a long way from that goal, but I hope that DoNotPay will ultimately give everyone the same legal power as the richest in society.”

In July, Mr Browder announced that he was working on an ambitious plan to automate the divorce process with the assistance of a team of salaried paralegals, having also launched 1,000 legal chatbots covering simple legal forms in the US and the UK – including consumer and workplace rights matters ranging from maternity leave to landlord contract violations.”

Also see, William Vogeler, Chatbox Opens Up 1,000 Practice Areas, Technologist (Findlaw.com),July 19, 2017 (“Now his bot, DoNotPay, is opening up 1,000 legal areas. That might trouble some lawyers, but Browder is also offering the program to attorneys”); John Mannes, DoNotPay launches 1,000 new bots to help you with your legal problems, Tech Crunch.com, July 12, 2007:

“Since making headlines last year with his DoNotPay chatbot to help people fight their parking tickets, 19-year-old Joshua Browder has been heads-down building in new capabilities on his quest to democratize legal help by automating as many common legal needs as possible. Today, Browder is pushing out 1,000 new bots that can assist people in filling out transactional legal forms in all 50 U.S. states and the U.K.

As Browder slowly added new capabilities to his initial DoNotPay bot, many early users started to become confused about what the tool could actually be used for. It’s for this reason that he decided to hold back and release as many legal assistance features as possible at one time to rebrand as a full-service consumer legal tool.

With today’s launch, DoNotPay can help anyone fill out transactional forms for maternity leave, landlord contract violations and more. The 1,000+ bots are fully searchable in natural language — users simply state the problem they are trying to solve and DoNotPay will automatically redirect them to the relevant assistant.

Browder had to take into account the sheer number of sub-forms and regional differences in law when building the tool. DoNotPay can automatically verify your location and feed you the relevant information for your area.”

[289] Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015.

[290] Business View, Industry leader on how professional services firms must change, NAB (Business.nab.com.au), September 22, 2017.

[291] Ken Grady, We Need to Understand the Rules to Play the Game, Algorithmic Society, September 24, 2017.

[292] Ken Grady, We Need to Understand the Rules to Play the Game, Algorithmic Society, September 24, 2017.

[293] Sandra Rubin, Funding Legal Innovation in Canada, Lexpert.ca, June 27, 2016.

[294] Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015. Also see, Jakob Weberstaedt, English Alternative Business Structures and the European single market, 21 International Journal of the Legal Profession, 2014.

[295] Laura Snyder, Does the UK know something we don’t about alternative business structures?, ABA Journal, January 2015. Also see, Jakob Weberstaedt, English Alternative Business Structures and the European single market, 21 International Journal of the Legal Profession, 2014.

[296] Professional Services Market Global Report 2017, The Business Research Company.com; Law Firms Face Increasing Competition from Non-Traditional Sources, SB Wire.com, October 30, 2017.

[297] David Curle, Why Size Matters: Big Four Accounting Firms Poised to Move In, Thomson Reuters, April 8, 2015.

[298] Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016; Jakob Weberstaedt, English Alternative Business Structures and the European single market, 21 International Journal of the Legal Profession, 2014. Also see, John Hyde, Top – 70 firms added to ABS roster, Law Gazette.co.uk, December 19, 2013 (“There is no downside to an ABS licence and it will give us extra flexibility to admit members to the LLP who are not solicitors”.  – Michael Ward, Head of Legal Practice, Gateley Plc, UK).

[299] Lee Akazaki, How origins of ABS in U.K. and Australian Law differ from Canada, leeakazaki.com, 2014.

[300] James M. McCauley, The Future of the Practice of Law: Can Alternative Business Structures for the Legal Profession Improve Access to Legal Services?, 51 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online, 2016.

[301] Robert Mysicka, Who Watches the Watchmen? The Role of the Self-Regulator, Commentary No. 416, C.D. Howe Institute, October 2014.

[302] Robert Mysicka, Who Watches the Watchmen? The Role of the Self-Regulator, Commentary No. 416, C.D. Howe Institute, October 2014.

[303] Keith Coats, A Warning to Leaders: Turbulence is not the Danger, Tomorrow Today Global.com, November 15, 2011.

[304] Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016.

[305] Jayne Reardon, The Disruption of Alternative Business Structures, 2 Civility.org, April 11, 2017.

[306] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017. Also see,, Solicitors Regulatory Authority (UK), SRA Handbook, r. 8.5 (2015); Nick Robinson, When Lawyers Don’t Get All the Profits: Non-Lawyer Ownership of Legal Services, Access, and Professionalism, 29 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 1 (2016); Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016:

“First, ABS structure is made possible by entity regulation, which supplements the traditional focus regulating the individual solicitor, barrister, or other legal professional. The firm itself, not just individual lawyers, is also licensed and regulated. As part of entity regulation, every U.K. firm (including ABS firms) must have a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP), who is responsible for assuring compliance with the professional obligations of the firm, and a Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration (COFA), who is responsible for assuring that sound financial and management practices are being maintained.

Second, the regulatory changes create a structure to reorient legal services from a lawyer-centered focus to a client and customer-oriented perspective.”

[307] Ken Chasse, Access to Justice – Unaffordable Legal Services’ Concepts and Solutions, papers.ssrn.com, July 19, 2016 (last revised August 29, 2017).

[308] Noel Semple, Legal Services Regulation in Canada: Plus Ca Change?, Scholarship at UWindsor, Faculty of Law Publications, Spring 2017; Noel Semple, Legal Services Regulation at the Crossroads: Justitia’s Legions, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2015;

[309] Alex Robinson, Entity regulation encouraged to boost diversity, Law Times, September 25, 2017.

[310] Compliance Based Entity Regulation, Law Society of Upper Canada (lsuc.on.ca).

[311] Drew Hasselback, Why the Law Society of Upper Canada’s move toward ‘entity regulation’ matters, Financial Post, May 31, 2016.

[312] Mitch Kowalski, Entity Regulation Comes to Canada, Financial Post, February 23, 2017; Yamri Taddesse, Entity Regulation – whaaaat?, Canadian Lawyer, October 5, 2015;

[313] The Case Against Clones, The Economist, February 2, 2013; Mark Cohen, The Pond Seems Wider: The Regulator Gap Between UK and U.S. Legal Practice, Legal Mosaic, May 4, 2015.

[314] CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association (CBA.org), August 2014 (page 19].

[315]  Mary E. Juetten, How can technology solve our access to justice crisis?, ABA Journal, September 8, 2017. Also see, Malcolm Mercer, Being in Favour of Reform, Just Not Change, Slaw, February 26, 2014 (“Should we care about the 85% of legal needs that are not addressed by lawyers? … The next question is why are lawyers used for less than 15% of legal needs?”); Jayne Reardon, Embrace a New Law Model to Better Serve Public and Lawyers, 2 Civility.org, November 29, 2016 (“Many studies over the last few decades reveal that an increasing segment of the population, primarily low and moderate income Americans, are not accessing legal services.  For only one example, Deborah Rhode documents in her research that “[a]ccording to most estimates, about four-fifths of the civil legal needs of the poor, and two- to three-fifths of the needs of middle-income individuals, remain unmet.”); Dr. George Beaton, 10 reasons BigLaw managing partners are not sleeping very well, Beaton Capital, August 15, 2015 (Lawyers are increasingly unaffordable to most individuals: Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet.  Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length.  Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems. Increasingly, these needs are being addressed by providers outside the legal profession, including those within the early resolution services sector.); Beverley McLachlin, Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Remarks of the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Chief Justice of Canada (2015 Canadian Bar Association Plenary), Supreme Court of Canada, August 14, 2015:

“Statistics support the view that accessing the justice system with the help of a legal professional is increasingly unaffordable to most people. Nearly 12 million Canadians will experience at least one legal problem in a given three-year period, yet few will have the resources to solve them. According to an American study from a few years ago, as much as 70%-90% of legal needs in society go unmet. We all know that unresolved legal problems adversely affect people’s lives and, ultimately, the public purse. Among the hardest hit are the middle class – who earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but frequently not enough to retain a lawyer for a matter of any complexity or length. Additionally, members of poor and vulnerable groups are particularly prone to legal problems, and legal problems tend to lead to problems of other types, such as health issues.”

[316] Mark Cohen, Global Legal Tech is Transforming Service Delivery, Forbes, August 29, 2017.

[317] Randi Mayes, Successful law firms provide both proper environment and tech tools, Legal Rebels, October 17, 2017. Also see, CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Futures: Transforming the Delivery of Legal Services in Canada, Canadian Bar Association, 2014, page 26-27 – “[S]tudies show that most lawyers are by nature conservative and risk-averse. But attitudes vary with personal circumstances. Age, gender, experience, income, and perceived competitive advantage are only some of the factors segmenting lawyers’ attitudes towards change. Lawyers or law firms may not be motivated to innovate because of their current success (“if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”). They believe it is not worth the effort, time, and cost to make necessary adjustments. In many cases, there is a lack of entrepreneurship. High fees, comfortable incomes, and an aging demographic reduce the motivation to improve, invest, or innovate”. Also see, Eric Sigurdson, A Way Forward: Disruptive Innovation, the Legal Profession, and the Client – what is the appropriate legal services delivery model in the ‘new normal’, Sigurdson Post, November 15, 2016.

[318] James Moliterno, The Trouble with Lawyer Regulation, Emory Law Journal, Vol. 62, page 101, May 13, 2013. Also see, James E. Moliterno, The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change, Oxford University Press, 2013.

[319] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017.

[320] Yves Faguy, The next generation on the future of law, CBA National, January 9, 2015.

[321] Malcolm Mercer and Susan McGrath (Co-Chairs Alternative Business Structures Working Group), Alternative Business Structures and the Legal Profession in Ontario: A Discussion Paper, Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014

[322] Judith McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016:

“While there is theoretical concern that non-lawyer owners and investors will dilute the lawyer’s professional obligations to clients, the business incentives for client satisfaction and contract renewal provide a check on self-dealing. Regulation, fiduciary obligations, and malpractice offer additional checks. A more elusive question is whether the non-lawyer owners and investors will move any public obligations into the form of corporate social responsibility, with all the complexities and nuances that brings.”

[323] Jonathan Smithers, Evolution of legal services: The impact of ABS in England & Wales, CBA National, October 26, 2015.

[324] Mark Cohen, Why US Legal Regulation Needs a British Makeover, Forbes, October 17, 2016.

[325] Judith A. McMorrow, UK Alternative Business Structures for Legal Practice: Emerging Models and Lessons for the US, 47 Georgetown Journal of International Law 665, 2016. Also see in Ontario, Canada: Access to Justice to be enhanced with the delivery of legal services through civil society organizations, Law Society Gazette.ca, September 28, 2017:

“Convocation approved, in principle, a policy to permit lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services through civil society organizations (CSOs), such as charities and not-for-profit organizations.

The policy is intended to enhance access to justice for individuals who may have legal issues but who have traditionally faced barriers to receiving legal advice from a lawyer or paralegal. Under the new policy, CSOs will be permitted to provide legal services to clients in addition to the services they already provide, such as social and health services. The policy is intended to enable the creation of new inclusive entry points for vulnerable people to find legal services, and integrated service delivery to people facing multiple issues, including legal problems.”

Alex Robinson, Some Alternative Business Structures approved, Law Times, October 2, 2017:

“Some personal injury lawyers are concerned that new Alternative Business Structure initiatives approved by the Law Society of Upper Canada are the beginning of a slippery slope toward non-lawyer ownership of law firms.

LSUC benchers approved a motion at their September meeting to allow non-profits and charities to provide legal services through practitioners. The changes will allow non-profits and charities to employ lawyers to provide legal services directly to clients rather than referring them out. … ‘We certainly want to see greater access to justice for those in need, and this model could help with that laudable goal.’”

[326] James M. McCauley, The Future of the Practice of Law: Can Alternative Business Structures for the Legal Profession Improve Access to Legal Services?, 51 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online, 2016 – for example, LegalZoom and Jacoby & Meyers are registered as ABS firms in the United Kingdom. Both firms have a long-term strategy to export their work product worldwide; Laura Snyder, Flexing ABS, 101 ABA J. 62, 68–70, 2015. Also see, Neil Rose, LegalZoom ABS set to turn £2m loss into profit after major investment, Legal Futures.co.uk, October 12, 2017.

[327] James M. McCauley, The Future of the Practice of Law: Can Alternative Business Structures for the Legal Profession Improve Access to Legal Services?, 51 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online, 2016; Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future, 122–31 (2013) (predicting new business structures to employ lawyers, such as global accounting firms, major legal publishers, legal know how providers, legal process outsourcers, high street retail businesses, legal leasing agencies, new-look law firms, online legal service providers, and legal management consultancies).

[328] Catherine J. Moynihan, Signs of the times: the rise of managed legal services, ACC Docket.com, August 2, 2017.

[329] PwC, 26th Annual Law Firm’s Survey: Time for change – PwC Law Firms’ Survey 2017, PwC.co.uk, 2017.

[330] Emma Ryan, Future legal market ‘will not be pure law’, Lawyers Weekly (Australia), September 21, 2017.

[331] Robert Heslett, What alternative business structures mean for the legal profession, The Guardian, June 9, 2010.

[332] Douglas Judson, ABS: Why law students care, CBA National, February 2015.

[333] James M. McCauley, The Future of the Practice of Law: Can Alternative Business Structures for the Legal Profession Improve Access to Legal Services?, 51 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online, 2016.

[334] Jayne R. Reardon, Alternative Business Structures: Good for the Public, Good for the Lawyers, 7:2 St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics 304, 2017.