Task Force Recommends Sweeping Changes to Arizona Legal Practice
A new report issued by the Arizona Task Force on the Delivery of Legal Services recommends substantial changes to the laws and rules governing the practice of law in the state. The report includes several recommendations that have been recently adopted in other states, such as softening the prohibitions on non-lawyers being partial owners of legal practices. Learn more about the recommended changes below, and contact Ottmar & Associates in Phoenix for help with depositions, court reporting and other Arizona litigation support.
The list of suggested changes put forward by the task force was aimed at increasing access to justice for Arizona residents who lack the means to afford pricey legal services. The task force, composed of 20 individuals including Arizona judges, lawyers, academics, court administrators, and non-lawyer citizens, was established in November 2018 by an administrative order issued by then-Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales. The task force met once a month from January to September 2019, listening to presentations on numerous topics related to changes in the manner in which legal services are delivered and how changes to the legal market were affecting and affected by the costs of legal services, as well as on the profession itself.
Who can own an Arizona law practice?
The task force arrived at several recommendations which, if adopted, would introduce substantial changes to the current rules of professional conduct. The most significant change recommended by the task force was the elimination of the ban on non-lawyer ownership of a business that engages in the practice of law. The report expressed the opinion that this rule was created as a way of protecting lawyers’ economic interests rather than the interests of the public. “Nonlawyers are instrumental in helping lawyers deliver legal services, and they bring valuable skills to the table,” the report explained.
Who can practice law in the Grand Canyon State?
Another recommendation made by the task force was the creation of a class of “limited license legal practitioners.” These professionals would have to meet specific educational, training, and testing requirements, but they would ultimately be able to offer certain legal services without being licensed Arizona attorneys. The task force argued that these so-called “LLLPs” would be especially needed in the field of family law, where many who need the assistance of legal professionals are unable to afford it. Such programs already exist in Washington state and Utah.
The recommendations did meet with some dissent among the task force’s membership. Peter B. Swann, the chief judge of Division I of Arizona’s Court of Appeals, felt that a better way to address the exorbitant cost of legal services would be to make procedural rules less byzantine and to improve understaffing. “Rather than examining the reasons that the system is so difficult and expensive to navigate, the Task Force’s first recommendation is to cast aside ethical rules in an effort to make the practice of law more profitable,” he wrote in a dissent to the task force’s report. Many of the recommendations will need to be studied further to operationalize, so any changes to state laws or professional rules are still a long way off.
If you need skilled, dedicated, and professional court reporting services in Arizona, contact the Phoenix offices of Ottmar & Associates at 602-485-1488.