If you’ve ever tried to find an answer to a legal question, you know that there is a conundrum. There are lots of lawyers, but few you can afford. Additionally, you have little way to figure out if the lawyer you can afford is the right one for you. Or, you may not find many lawyers in your area at all.
The result? Many of us cannot get practical legal knowledge when we need it to get justice. (Yes, you can search the Internet, but you may still not understand how to apply the law to your situation.)
Arizona tries something new.
In part, you have trouble getting the legal knowledge you crave because of the conservative nature of law practice. Law is slow to change because the justice and court systems rely on “due process”, and that process can be damaged by ill-conceived, rushed changes. (Of course, law is also slow to change because practicing lawyers are reluctant to change for their own reason).
Now the Arizona Supreme Court has changed the process.
New advertising rules
Lawyers will have more modern advertising rules. We all dislike pop-up ads, but most of us can be educated through ads and separate the wheat from the chaff).
Sharing legal fees
Legal fees can be shared with non-lawyers. Capital investment in law firms may revolutionize access to legal knowledge for ordinary folks. Not only directly to the “public”, but for attorneys as well.
New non-lawyer category of professional
The Arizona Supreme Court will authorize a new category of legal professional. Law school tuition alone runs from about $85,000 to $150,000 for three years, and most law schools are full-time commitments with limited work opportunities. These new professionals will be able to avoid that and may be less expensive when it comes to helping folks when they need it most.
Exciting times for new lawyers
We won’t know for some time, of course. Powerful forces may try to cut Arizona’s experiment short. However, it is a start and I support the efforts of the Arizona Supreme Court. It would be an exciting time to be in law school or a new lawyer in Arizona.
Here is an article from Juliet Peters, a keen observer of changes in the practice of law.