Attempting to focus its efforts on policy-making,
the State Bar Board of Governors has begun to consider issues it believes may result in
fundamental changes to the legal profession, most particularly multidisciplinary and
multijurisdictional practices, challenges to core values and access to justice.
At a special meeting called recently solely to address policy issues,
the board also looked at the unauthorized practice of law which sometimes can result from
new types of practice, and at ethical challenges presented by the internet.
These certainly are issues that will impact how legal services
will be provided and how law will be practiced in the coming millennium, said bar
President Andrew Guilford. Changing markets are challenging our traditional way of
Changes in the profession are being driven by forces including
technology, market specialization, price competition, client sophistication and the
globalization of financial service markets.
Coupled with the high cost of services and reduced access to justice
for the average Joe, the legal profession is undergoing a kind of deconstruction, says
David Long, a policy analyst for the State Bar. What were seeing is the
slicing and dicing of legal services, he said.
As a result, new legal delivery systems are emerging. In addition to
multidisciplinary offices which offer one-stop shopping, consumers increasingly may choose
hotlines, internet advice, self-help books or nonlawyer advocates to solve a legal problem
or they may represent themselves.
While new systems offer new opportunities for practitioners and
consumers, they also present challenges and potential ethical pitfalls.
California Bar Journal takes a look at some of the changes facing
lawyers and their practices.