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Best Best & Krieger LLP Partner Ruben Duran was quoted in a recent ABA Journal article addressing the effectiveness of the outside investment of law firms and legal services to bridge the justice gap. Approximately, each year 30 million people in the U.S. are forced to handle civil legal problems on their own, and in two-thirds of all civil cases, at least one party goes to court without a lawyer.

After three years, the debate on the deregulation of the legal industry continues to be a heated topic with limited options for determining a path forward. Rule 5.4 of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct bars nonlawyer ownership of law firms and fee sharing. Supporters of the rule say allowing outside corporate interests creates conflicts and undermines the ability of the courts to regulate the profession.

In 2020, the California State Bar developed the Closing the Justice Gap Working Group to review proposals for training nonlawyers to assist Californians with their legal problems. However, the group was disbanded after state lawmakers passed a bill in 2022 putting the brakes on deregulation. 

Per Ruben Duran, “Californians deserve every reasonable opportunity to have their legal needs addressed in a way that is affordable.”
However, other states have moved forward and are allowing nonlawyers to offer advice on child custody, divorces, evictions or other housing and family matters where many people go it alone in court.

The full ABA Journal article can be viewed here.

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