Legislative Testimony

This page contains Responsive Law's testimony before state legislatures, state supreme courts, bar associations, and other organizations.


Requiring Public Oversight of Lawyer Regulation

The U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC requires professions that regulate themselves to have "active state supervision" to avoid federal antitrust liability. Since most state bars are self-regulating, this decision has a major impact on them. Responsive Law believes that state bars need to be subject to oversight from the elected branches of government so that they can be responsive to the public, rather than to lawyers' perceived self-interest.

Testimony on Concerns Regarding State Bar of California's Request for a Special Regulatory Assessment  (October 17, 2016)

Testimony on Concerns Regarding Committee Analysis of Assembly Bill 2878  (August 11, 2016)

Testimony on California Assembly Bill 2878  (increasing public oversight of the State Bar of California) (June 22, 2016)


Non-Lawyer Assistance and Unauthorized Practice of Law

In some states, innovators in the delivery of legal services—or even those who provide services that are only tangentially related to law—have found themselves charged with the unauthorized practice of law (UPL). Although we recognize that consumers must be protected from incompetent and unprofessional operators, we do not regard such protection as being incompatible with competition. Responsive Law fights unreasonable restrictions on who consumers may use to provide services in fields related to law. 

Supplemental Testimony Regarding D.C. City Council Bill B21-8079 Expanding Access to Counsel to Low-Income Tenants in Housing Matters  (November 3, 2016)

 

Testimony Regarding D.C. City Council Bill B21-8079 Expanding Access to Counsel to Low-Income Tenants in Housing Matters  (October 24, 2016)

 

Comments on Issues Paper Concerning Unregulated Legal Service Providers, Submitted to the American Bar Association (April 28, 2016)


Testimony in support of California Assembly Bill 285) (May 31, 2015)

Comments to the State Bar of California  (May 11, 2015)

Comments on New Categories of Legal Services Providers, Submitted to the American Bar Association  (January 8, 2016)

 

Comments on Issues Paper on the Future of Legal Services, Submitted to the American Bar Assocation (Dec 10, 2014)

Letter to California Governor Jerry Brown Urging Veto of AB 852
(May 20, 2014)

Comments on Proposed Rule Regarding Unauthorized Practice of Law, Submitted to the Wyoming State Bar
 (March 28, 2014)


Testimony in Support of Florida House Bills 7037 and 7039
 (March 4, 2014)

Comments on Expanding Civil Legal Services in New York, Submitted to the New York Commission on Access to Justice (September 27, 2013)

 

Testimony in Opposition to California Assembly Bill 888  (giving the state bar new powers and financial incentives in UPL cases) (June 19, 2013)

 

Comments on Limited License Legal Technicians, Submitted to the State Bar of California  (June 12, 2013)

 

Testimony in Opposition to Connecticut Senate Bill 829  (expanding definition of UPL and making it a felony) (April 25, 2013)

 

Testimony in Opposition to Oklahoma Senate Bill 986  (making UPL a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months imprisonment) (March 22, 2013)

 

Testimony in Support of New York Senate Bill 427  (allowing non-lawyer representatives in housing court) (February 27, 2013)

 

Comments on Unauthorized Practice of Law and Forestry Consultants, Submitted to the Georgia Bar  (Georgia State Bar Standing Committee on UPL hearing to determine whether forestry consultants using fill-in-the-blank forms for timber contracts are engaged in UPL) (May 31, 2012)

 

Testimony on Georgia Senate Bill 365  (allowing broad class of plaintiffs to collect attorney fees from those liable for UPL) (March 14, 2012)

 

Comments on Proposed Amendments to Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure  (expanding UPL restrictions to apply to broad range of professional services) (October 3, 2011)

 

Letter to North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue Urging Veto of Senate Bill 349  (establishing broad private cause of action for UPL) (June 27, 2011)


    Non-Lawyer Ownership of Law Firms

     New models for providing legal services have been slow to develop because of the requirement that capital for innovation may come only from                lawyers. Allowing outside investment in law firms could result in innovative new models of the delivery of legal services that could expand access            and reduce cost, while still maintaining the legal profession's ethical standards.

      Comments on Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures, Submitted to the American Bar Association  (May 2, 2016)

 

      Comments to the State Bar of California  (May 11, 2015)

 

     Comments on Issues Paper on the Future of Legal Services, Submitted to the American Bar Association  (Dec 10, 2014)

 


Lawyer Advertising

Lawyers should not be restricted in their ability to provide truthful information to potential clients. Responsive Law opposes lawyer advertising rules that prevent consumers from having access to information they need to make an informed decision when hiring a lawyer.

Comments to ABA on Proposed Amendments to Model Rules on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation  (March 1, 2017)

Comments to the Florida Supreme Court on Proposed Changes to Florida Bar Rules  (imposing restrictions on lawyer referral services) (Sept. 16, 2016)

Comments to the Florida Bar on Proposed Amendments to Florida Bar Rules   (imposing unnecessary restrictions on lawyer referral services) (April 15, 2013)

Comments on Issues Paper on  the Future of Legal Services  (Dec 10, 2014)


Protecting Client Rights

Responsive Law's Clients' Bill of Rights outlines rights that people should have when they interview, consult or hire a lawyer. Responsive Law supports legislation that enforces these rights or creates them where they do not already exist under law.


    Online Legal Services and Multijurisdictional Practice

     Online legal services reduce the high overhead costs of a physical presence, reducing the cost to consumers while also making it easier for them to        get help quickly and easily. As the legal profession addresses the regulation of online providers, it faces the related issue of lawyers practicing in            multiple states. Responsive Law supports wider availability of online legal services and multijurisdictional practice as ways to increase access to              lawyers and reduce consumer costs.

     Comments on E-Signatures in Estate Planning  (February 2, 2017)

 


Limited Scope Representation ("Unbundled" Legal Services)

Lawyers should be permitted to tailor the scope of their services to suit the needs of specific consumers.  For example, consumers may wish to draft their own legal documents, but want to ask an attorney to review their work, or pay simply for an answer to a legal question online.  The legal community should be amenable to allowing legal professionals to offer their services on an “as needed” basis.


Simplifying Courts

Many people could resolve their disputes without a lawyer if courts were easier to use. By simplifying court procedures and making small claims courts more available, states can help people minimize or eliminate the cost of hiring a lawyer. Small claims courts, which use simplified procedures, are designed to be used without a lawyer. While some states allow small claims cases up to $25,000 to be brought in these user-friendly courts, others have much lower dollar limits. This can force people to walk away from meritorious cases because their case is too large for small claims court but too small to make hiring a lawyer cost-effective.

Testimony in Support of Vermont House Bill 545  (raising small claims dollar limit from $5,000 to $10,000) (January 27, 2014)

 

Testimony in Support of Iowa House File 248  (raising small claims dollar limit from $5,000 to $10,000) (March 1, 2013)

 

Testimony in Support of Connecticut House Bill 6479  (raising small claims dollar limit from $5,000 to $10,000) (February 27, 2013)

 
Letter in Support of Mississippi House Bill 244   (creating modified small claims procedures for cases up to $100,000) (January 31, 2013)
 

     ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services

      This American Bar Association task force was created in 2014 to examine how legal services are delivered in the United States and to recommend             innovations to improve the delivery of, and the public's access to, those services. As with the ABA's Ethics 20/20 Commission, Responsive Law has             been the only organization to testify on behalf of consumers of legal services. 

      Comments on Issues Paper Regarding Alternative Business Structures (May 2, 2016)

     Comments on Issues Paper Concerning Unregulated Legal Service Providers (April 28, 2016)

      Comments on Legal Checkups  (April 22, 2016)


      ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20

       This American Bar Association task force was created in 2009. Its mission was to perform "a thorough review of the ABA Model Rules of                          Professional Conduct and the U.S. system of lawyer regulation in the context of advances in technology and global legal practice developments."            Responsive Law was the only organization to testify to the commission on behalf of consumers of legal services.