Upsolve uses First Amendment to deal a modest but important blow to UPL. Is it the basis for a playbook?  Time will tell.


Earlier this week, a federal district court in New York granted an injunction in favor of Upsolve, Inc., a nonprofit legal technology company founded by Rohan Pavuluri, a public interest entrepreneur who cut his teeth in Harvard Law’s A2J Lab, and Rev. John Udo-Okon,  a pastor from the South Bronx.  Both Pavuluri and Udo-Okon both were interested in providing free legal advice to individuals facing debt collection actions.  See Upsolve Inc. v. James, No. 22-cv-627 (SDNY, May 24, 2022).

The predicaments faced by many New Yorkers are fairly typical of those faced but so many individuals, whether indigent or low-income by typical measures, throughout the United States — they simply cannot afford lawyers to assist them with their pressing legal problems.  They are the faces of the profound access to justice crisis in the United States, putting them at omnipresent risk of losing their livelihoods, their homes, or even worse fates. Through a carefully designed initiative called the American Justice Movement, Upsolve and Rev. Udo-Okon would train a group of “justice advocates” to give targeted, limited legal advice to individuals facing debt collections.

Continue Reading New and noteworthy: Upsolve Inc v. James (303)


A. Innovation methodologies are used to create novel experiments meant to improve DEI in legal, but more significantly, systems innovation creates an opportunity to advance DEI as a critical feature of the next epoch and not an afterthought.


I begin this post with a disclaimer: I’m a woman in law. I’m not racially diverse, or otherwise so. While I have an education and appreciation of the myriad DEI issues in the profession and broader society, I do not have a personal understanding beyond my own gendered experience. I speak only for myself from my place of understanding, with the best intentions towards empowering all people to flourish through equitable systems.

Q: “Wait, is this a Diversity initiative or an Innovation initiative?”

A: “It’s both.”
Continue Reading Q: How does innovation intersect with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in law? (298)


Improving the legal system requires state supreme courts to fully accept their role as regulators.


For the sake of this post, let’s assume the following statement is true:  Once every 100 years or so, the jurists who preside over the highest courts in the land are obligated to evaluate the functioning of the legal system and, if necessary, make structural changes that will improve access, efficiency, and justice for the citizens they serve.

Two interrelated challenges follow.  First, how do the jurists decide if structural changes are necessary?  Second, how do the jurists find the time and acquire the expertise to carry out such a large and complex project?
Continue Reading State supreme courts and the challenges of PeopleLaw (287)


To date, this highly influential stakeholder has had very little to say.


The fierce and fascinating struggle underway in the American states over legal services reform brings to the table a large collection of interest groups.  These groups include law firms, legal aid organizations, entrepreneurs who might benefit financially from the liberalization of entry rules, and of course the gatekeeper entities, including state bar authorities and the state supreme courts, whose decisions are crucial to the evolution and shape of reform.  See Posts 239 (beginning of a four-part series on serious challenges of bar federalism).

The identity of these specific groups may differ from state to state, as the legal ecosystem has contours often tailored to a particular state’s history and objectives, but the configuration of stakeholders has some rather common elements.

What remains somewhat opaque in this robust and interconnected battle over the reform of legal services is the voice of legal educators and the law schools.  These are, after all, the places in which future lawyers are educated and professional values are instilled.  It is had to imagine a more fertile and opportune time to discuss the ambitions and philosophies of this next generation of legal professionals.
Continue Reading Legal education as a key stakeholder in legal services reform (276)

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

A prescription for a wicked problem.


Parts I ( 239), II (240), and III  (245) of this series have canvassed the matter of balkanized legal services regulation.  While not a comprehensive review of all dimensions of this large, complex system, I have drilled down to some of the examples of this phenomenon. And, in Part I and, especially, in Part III, I describe some of the regulatory pathologies that emerge from a system that is configured in such a balkanized way, pathologies that are problematic from a consumer welfare perspective but are deeply entrenched.
Continue Reading Our Bar Federalism, Part IV (246)


Maybe. And if so, it would an improvement over what working and middle-class people can afford now.


Most lawyers have probably seen by now the announcement that Arizona has become the first state to permit law firms to have owners that are not lawyers.  See, e.g., Bob Ambrogi, “Arizona Is First State To Eliminate Ban On Nonlawyer Ownership Of Law Firms,” Lawsites, Aug. 31, 2020.  While much of the early commentary has focused on whether this will permit the Big Four accounting firms to encroach further into the lawyers’ protected realm of practice, this new rule is a big deal for the little guy.
Continue Reading “Everyday Low Price” for Legal Services in Arizona? (198)


The Jim Sandman approach shows the most promise.


“The profession has a responsibility to assure that its regulations are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interested concerns of the bar.”  This above sentence comes from ¶12 of the Preamble of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

As states increasingly