enduring providers of legal services within
our state. A decade ago, we helped define
and regulate document preparers.
Venture-backed, Internet-based, legal
service providers are a horse of a different
color. At present I think it is more accurate
to say that your Bar regulates lawyers, not
the full practice of law. The same Supreme
Court rule that creates your Bar to regulate the practice of law also states that “the
responsibility of the legal profession and
the individual members thereof” must be
“discharged in the public interest.”
Increasing access to justice, and bringing
down the cost of legal services for consumers, is surely in the public interest. This
is true, however, only if those providing
the services are held, as lawyers are, to
standards of competence, professionalism
The theme for your Bar’s June 2014
Annual Convention is “Embracing Our
Future.” The changing nature of the practice of law and how it will affect you will be
a strong focus at the convention. I hope to
see you there.
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE by Whitney Cunningham
Rocket Lawyer, LegalZoom, LawyerUp, CorpNet.
These and many other Internet-based companies are prepared to connect legal services consumers with lawyers—or to skip lawyers altogether and deliver legal services directly. None of them existed when I
joined the Board of Governors more than a decade ago. If you haven’t
checked them out, you should, because they are not going away. In
2011 venture capitalists poured some $66 million into LegalZoom,
and in the same year Google invested $18.5 million in Rocket Lawyer.
More changes may be on the horizon. In 2007, the United Kingdom
adopted the Legal Services Act,
which permits “Alternate Business
Structures” so that legal services may
be provided alongside other goods
and services, such as supermarkets
and banks, including by publicly traded companies. The law was dubbed
the “Tesco Law,” named for Britain’s
version of Walmart.
3 The idea of non-lawyer ownership of law firms is not
new in the United States. The District
of Columbia currently allows it in a
limited form, and just last year the
What comprises a law firm and what counts as the practice of law
is changing. Huron Consulting Group is a publicly traded company
(NASDAQ: HURN), incorporated in Delaware and based in Chicago,
which provides consulting services in the areas of finance, health care
and education. It also provides “legal consulting.” In 2012, Huron
generated nearly a third of its $626 million of revenue through legal
consulting, including matter, document and discovery management.
Huron points out on its website that it is not a law firm and does not
provide legal counseling.6 It does employ some 1,500 lawyers and non-lawyers in 17 offices in the United States and India to provide document review and other “legal consulting” services to law departments
and law firms.
The emergence of alternate formats for delivering legal services
presents both challenges and opportunities. For example,
consider the “2013 Legal Need in Arizona” study put
together by the Bar Foundation and our state’s legal service
organizations. In 2013, as many as 64 percent of individuals
either handled their legal problems on their own or took no
action to address them.
7 What would it mean for access to
justice if consumers could obtain low-cost legal help at
Walmart and Costco? At the same time, our Supreme Court
rules clearly prohibit both the unauthorized practice of law
as well as non-lawyer ownership of law firms.
8 Your Bar is
charged with enforcing these rules.
The Supreme Court rule from which the State Bar of
Arizona derives its authority states, in part, that the Bar exists
“to provide for the regulation and discipline of persons
engaged in the practice of law.”
9 There now exist alternative,
At present I think it is
accurate to say that
your Bar regulates
lawyers, not the full
practice of law.
1. PRWEB, April 28, 2011 ( www.prweb.
2. FORBES, Aug. 11, 2011 ( www.forbes.
3. BBC NEWS, March 28, 2012
4. ABA J, Aug 6, 2012
5. Huron Consulting Group 2012
Annual Report (http://ir.
7. Arizona Foundation for Legal Services &
Education, 2013 The Legal Need in Arizona
8. Rules 31 & 75-80, ARIZ.R.S.CT.; Ariz.
Ethics Rule 5. 4.
9. Rule 32(a)( 1), ARIZ.R.S.CT.
10. Arizona Code of Judicial Administration
11. Rule 32(a)( 1), ARIZ.R.S.CT.