The court system has long guaranteed criminal defendants the right to a lawyer at trial. There are also some situations where a lawyer is provided to help protect an individual’s interest in a civil case. However, the vast majority of civil litigants are not entitled to a lawyer, leaving them to find a lawyer they trust to handle their work or represent themselves. A recent proposal by the Utah Supreme Court is aiming to change this and increase access to the legal system.
This new experiment follows a trend toward increasing legal access. Previous efforts have included an online portal for small claims, a limited practice scope for trained paralegals, and more. The new proposal creates a “sandbox” test environment where entrepreneurs, even if nonlawyers, can bring ideas and test products to increase access to the legal system. Applicants can test their technology ideas with the court’s oversight.
Pros of Increased Technology
The big hope is that this project will open the court system to creative ideas that will streamline and improve the legal process. This could include ways to help lawyers better and more cost-effectively provide legal services to their clients. The legal system has long been slow to change, though in the past, both lawyers and non-lawyers have introduced new technologies to improve the field.
Concerns About the New Initiative
The law is slow to change for a reason; it tries to fully vet changes to the law, regulations, and technology before they are adopted. This is one reason for the “sandbox” method, where a small sample of the industry can work with and improve a technology before it’s released to the public. From leveraging technology to increased efficiency in communications, documents, and scheduling could help everyone have access to the court system, but each of these proposed solutions must be thoroughly tested to ensure they don’t also cause people to lose their rights or to have less-effective outcomes.
While streamlining legal services will help both lawyers and the public, other changes, such as opening up the ownership of law firms to non-lawyers, come with their own set of complications. Lawyers are bound by certain ethical rules that govern how they practice, how they bill, and how they make client decisions. Having a non-lawyer own a law firm means a non-lawyer, not trained and bound to the same standards, may make management and practice decisions for the lawyers. Even if the lawyers are given the right to exercise independent judgment, non-lawyer management could set up incentives that undermine these efforts.
If you’re facing a civil lawsuit and you don’t want to go it alone, experienced business litigation lawyers, like the team from Dunn Law Firm, can help you argue and defend a variety of business and civil litigation issues. We use the best available technology to help you reach your goals. We will watch any new technology the Utah Supreme Court proposes with interest and work with our clients to adopt those that best meet their needs. Reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 and set up a free consultation today.