On Demand

Sandcastles in the Sky: Legal Ethics and the Future of Law


Created on November 30, 2021





From the Utah "regulatory sandbox" around non-lawyer provision of legal services to Arizona's authorization of non-lawyer-owned law firms and repeal of the bans on sharing fees with nonlawyers and paying for referrals, to state bar task forces throughout the United States, states are reimagining the traditional regulations of the practice of law. Driven largely by a desire to increase access to high-quality, affordable legal services, the new rules appear ready to allow lawyers to embrace collaboration and closer business relations with nonlawyers. These new models for offering legal services tout increased efficiencies, revenue, and access to legal services for a greater segment of the population - but will also require reinterpretation of the rules and enforcement of legal ethics and professional conduct. 

Legal ethics rules have historically prohibited attorneys from sharing legal fees and inviting non-lawyer partners into the mix. Along with concern for the professional independence of a lawyer, fundamental legal ethics requirements such as competence, diligence, communication, and confidentiality must be addressed. In the future of lawyering, will non-lawyers be bound and disciplined by the rules of legal ethics? Who will be accountable for ethical lapses by non-lawyers? How will the public be protected from non-lawyers who commit legal malpractice? This program will provide an overview of the current state of regulatory developments throughout the country, address the legal ethics concerns at the core of these developments, and discuss how the legal profession's "sandboxes" might evolve the future of the profession. 


Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss recent developments in non-lawyer legal services, including efforts to protect the public from legal malpractice

  2. Review the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, including some specific state rules, and how they may apply to new forms of legal practice 

  3. Review how Utah and Arizona variations on Model Rule 5.4 will apply to law firms with offices in other states

  4. Provide tips for fee agreement compliance with Model Rule 1.5(e)

  5. Analyze whether ABA Opinion 495 and Model Rule 5.5 permit remote practice anywhere

  6. Explain Arizona's elimination of Rule 7.2 in order to permit agreements to pay for referrals

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