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The Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) has formed the Future of Lawyering Committee to explore the evolving nature of technology and its impact on the delivery of legal services and access to justice. Our goal is to develop specific proposals for amending the legal ethics rules and reforming the lawyer regulatory process. The APRL Future of Lawyering Committee will continue the excellent work of the APRL Regulation of Lawyer Advertising Committee, which adopted reports and recommendations for rule changes in the areas of advertising and solicitation that are now being considered by the American Bar Association and several states. This committee is chaired by former APRL presidents, Jan Jacobowitz, a professor at the University of Miami School of Law, and Art Lachman, a practitioner in Seattle.

Access to justice is an ethical prerogative, and there is little doubt that the legal needs of a large portion of the American public are not being met. This void is increasingly being filled by nonlawyer entrepreneurs utilizing modern technology. We believe that our ethics rules do not adequately address the practical ways people deal with problems that arise in their everyday lives, which they often do not even identify as legal ones, and what lawyers can do to assist them in solving these problems.  In forming the Future of Lawyering Committee, APRL seeks to become a proactive voice in the inevitable change that has already begun in the delivery of legal services. As with the successful advertising initiative, our goal is to make meaningful proposals for change in the area of lawyer regulation so that the profession may both embrace evolving technology and increase the delivery of competent legal services to the American public, with full accountability, and without unreasonably restraining competition.

The Future of Lawyering Committee will evaluate and report to the APRL Board on various aspects of the delivery of legal services. The initial focus will be on the regulations that govern multijurisdictional practice and the unauthorized practice of law, and a lawyer’s interaction with nonlawyers, which implicates issues such as referral fees, the giving of value for recommending the lawyer’s services, and fee sharing. The Committee will also explore and recommend changes to other aspects of practice regulation in the “5” series of the ABA Model Rules regarding “Law Firms & Associations,” including multidisciplinary practice/alternative business structures and nonlawyer investment in law firms; law-related/ancillary law firm businesses; restrictions on the right to practice; and alternative regulatory models for legal services delivery.

The Committee’s work, which is expected to take approximately two years, is modeled on the Advertising Committee in including the participation of both APRL members and non-member experts and liaisons, including representatives of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility and the National Organization of Bar Counsel. Given the breadth of the issues to explore, the Committee has been divided into four subcommittees to examine the various issues, with the goal of creating an integrated and comprehensive report proposing specific changes to the RPCs and regulatory structures to facilitate the delivery of legal services. Programming at future APRL meetings will also focus on the work and recommendations of the committee and subcommittees.

APRL Future of Lawyering Committee:
Jan Jacobowitz, Co-Chair
Art Lachman, Co-Chair