American Bar Association


Some realism on the regulatory reform movement


Imagine a legal sector neatly divided into two groups: the Rule Makers and the Risk Takers.  With evidence piling up that the legal market is not working for ordinary citizens, the Rule Makers come together to evaluate possible changes. After the new rules are enacted, the burden shifts to the Risk Takers to build out workable solutions.

If we apply this simple model to the US legal sector, it appears that the Rule Makers are struggling to deliver, as the most high-profile liberalization efforts at the state and national levels are now being shelved or slow-walked. See, e.g., Cheryl Miller, “California State Bar Puts Brakes on Proposed ‘Regulatory Sandbox,’” Am. Law., Mar. 13, 2020 (citing “political headwinds” as reason for tabling ATILS Task Force recommendations); Brenda Sapino Jeffreys, “ABA Approves Innovation Resolution, With Revisions to Limit Regulatory Changes,” Law.com, Feb. 17, 2020 (discussing passage of watered-down resolution that disavowed any changes to nonlawyer ownership or the unauthorized practice of law).
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No one really knows how the game is played //  The art of the trade  // How the sausage gets made // We just assume that it happens // But no one else is in // The room where it happens

Lin-Manuel Miranda


Since graduating from law school in 2015, I’ve spent a lot of time in the room where it happens. I’ve served in leadership roles on local, state, and national bar associations; I’ve traveled around the country speaking with lawyers and law students of all sorts; and I’ve helped the sausage get made.
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