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Friday, August 31, 2018

Sponsored Post: The unauthorized practice of law for nonlawyers

The following post is by Ellen Murphy and Steve Nickles (both from Wake Forest) and is sponsored by West Academic.

The dramatic changes in the legal profession since the 2008 market crash, from the increase in virtual law practice to the rise of DIY services to clients’ increasing demand for efficiencies, have led to a recognition that nonlawyers have an increasingly critical role in the delivery of legal services. While most regulatory bars are not yet sure exactly: (a) what this role should be; or (b) how, if at all, it should be regulated, that a change is coming is certain.

Meanwhile, companies large and small -- saddled with increasing regulations but fewer resources – look more frequently to employees in risk management, compliance, and human resources, to name but a few, to exercise legal judgement, decreasing the reliance on traditional inside and outside counsel.

When the ABA created the Commission on the Future of Legal Services, with a goal of using technology and innovation to increase access to justice, the President acknowledged that some people see this shift as a “back doorway of disrupting a system that they’re comfortable with.” All a perfect precursor to the coming regulatory challenges for our current restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law.

In response, education directed at nonlawyer legal professionals is also increasing; the providers include law schools, other higher education entities, trade associations, and for-profit companies. However, little of this education is focused on the unauthorized practice of law. As the debate is getting hotter over what nonlawyers, people or computers, can do without running afoul of unauthorized practice of law restrictions, education must include coverage of the current state of the law, no matter how impossible it may be to define the “practice of law” with precision.

To bridge this gap, our new book and interactive course, The Unauthorized Practice of Law for Nonlawyers, explores the extent to which people with legal training, but no license to practice, can use the law, as a social and economic variable, to better manage risk without fear of prosecution or civil liability. Materials include a complete, 1-credit course syllabus, with over 4-hours of videos and 700-minutes of direct-faculty contact hours through discussion prompts and project prompts, perfect for an active-learning, flipped classroom. Alternatively, the materials can be used as a 1-hour self-directed module.
The book is intended for general education about the UPL and to provoke informed thinking and useful discussion about the UPL’s present and future boundaries. UPL regulation varies widely across the country, is always and everywhere highly fact-specific, is riddled with non-uniform, judicial and legislative exceptions, and always is decided on a case-by-case basis. But even with this uncertainty, educators must promote and provide for the exploration of these issues.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on August 31, 2018 at 03:23 PM in Article Spotlight, Sponsored Announcements | Permalink

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