Attorneys question presence of tech industry insiders on California bar task force for reforming legal industry

A California state bar task force crafting proposals to overhaul regulation of the state’s legal marketplace has drawn criticism from attorneys who believe some of its members evaluating whether to open up the legal industry to nonlawyer ownership and greater technology-driven legal services have conflicts of interest.

News Story (California, NATIONAL)

Lyle Moran
ABA Journal
December 5, 2019
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Tags: Non-lawyers, Technology


DETAILS

The task force issued 16 tentative recommendations this summer, including allowing non-attorneys to own or have financial interests in legal entities. The panel also proposed permitting “technology-driven legal services delivery systems” to engage in certain legal activities without committing the unauthorized practice of law.

The merits of the tentative proposals drew strong opposition from California’s legal community during a public comment period that concluded in late September. In fact, every single proposal received majority opposition from public commenters. However, some lawyers have also raised concerns about the task force’s roster.

Erin Joyce, a Pasadena-based ethics lawyer, said there is potential for members of the panel with tech ties to financially benefit from allowing nonlawyers to own or invest in law firms.