Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 13

FEATURE

F

ollowing decades of near stasis, the
traditional law firm business model
may be facing a significant makeover
in the United States. A laundry list of
factors has brought the situation to a
head, from the mounting cost of legal
services to plateauing law firm growth to
deteriorating access to legal services for
low- and middle-income clients.

"We're finally at a place where it's possible to have the technology to
address some access to justice issues and make a real impact on the
offering of legal services," says James W. Jones, a senior fellow at the
Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown University Law
Center. "It's time for a major step forward, and to the extent our current
regulations get in the way of making it possible, we really ought to be
rethinking them."
Legal regulators in the United States are doing just that. State task forces
are examining initiatives to improve access to legal services and enhance
competitiveness. The likely focus? Their versions of ABA Model Rule 5.4
- the near-universally adopted guideline that generally prohibits lawyers
or law firms from sharing legal fees with nonlawyers, restricts lawyers
from forming partnerships with nonlawyers, and forbids investment
banks or outside companies from acquiring law practices.
This turning point tracks back to the Great Recession of the late 2000s
and the economic aftershocks that rocked the legal industry, as well as
recent technological advances that broke down geographic and cultural
barriers. Most importantly, the law firm's client relationships morphed in
response to these triggers, creating more demanding and knowledgeable
consumers of legal services.
Many in the legal profession have argued that the best option for surviving these pivotal changes is to reconfigure conventional law firms,
whether the threats are technological, economic, or cultural. Revamping
the law firm business model is the latest reform initiative and the most
promising, some would argue, to transform a 20th-century framework
into a 21st-century success.
In recent years, the alternative business structure has gone from a novel
idea to a reality in other countries, and to great advantage. With governing rules rewritten, accounting firms and corporations have integrated
legal services into their portfolios, and law firms have brought on nonlawyer partners. The effort has increased legal access for low- and middleincome clients and financial opportunities for law firms and their new
competitors.
"Many have recognized that, in the delivery of legal information and other
legal services, there's been a lack of innovation as compared to other
industries," says Scott Bales, executive director of the Institute for the
Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), a nonprofit at the
University of Denver. "Many people think, and there is some truth to it,
that the lack of innovation is also reflected in how we've regulated the
delivery of legal services, too."

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MAY 2020

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WASHINGTON LAWYER

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Washington Lawyer - May 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - May 2020

LETTER TO MEMBERS ON COVID-19 CRISIS
FROM OUR PRESIDENT
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
ABA DELEGATE’S CORNER
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
REVOLUTIONIZING THE BUSINESS OF LAW
DIGITAL JUSTICE
ADVANCING THE HUMAN RIGHTS C AUSE ACROSS BORDERS
TAKING THE STAND
ON FURTHER REVIEW
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
WORTH READING
ATTORNEY BRIEFS
SPEAKING OF ETHICS
DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
THE PRO BONO EFFECT
SPECIAL SECTION: THE REVOLUTIONARY C RYSTAL EASTMAN
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 4
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - LETTER TO MEMBERS ON COVID-19 CRISIS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 8
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ABA DELEGATE’S CORNER
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - REVOLUTIONIZING THE BUSINESS OF LAW
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - DIGITAL JUSTICE
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ADVANCING THE HUMAN RIGHTS C AUSE ACROSS BORDERS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 26
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - TAKING THE STAND
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ON FURTHER REVIEW
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - WORTH READING
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 40
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ATTORNEY BRIEFS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - SPEAKING OF ETHICS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 43
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - THE PRO BONO EFFECT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - SPECIAL SECTION: THE REVOLUTIONARY C RYSTAL EASTMAN
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 50
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover4
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