Arizona Supreme Court grants first ABS licence

Law company Elevate has been granted an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) license by the Arizona Supreme Court, making Elevate and its affiliated law firm, ElevateNext, a single entity.  This makes Elevate the first non-lawyer-owned law firm in the United States.

In 2020 Arizona became the first state to remove the prohibition of non-lawyers owning law firms after decades of ethnics rules across the country banning this practice.

Read the full article here.

The Bar Standards Board of England and Wales has welcomed the new sanctions guidance announced by the Bar Tribunals and Sanctions Service

The Bar Standards Board of England and Wales has welcomed a new sanctions regime brought in by the Bar Tribunal and Sanctions Service. The new sanctions will be used by Disciplinary Tribunals and by the BSB’s Independent Decision-Making Body in deciding what sanctions to bring against barristers found to have committed professional misconduct.

The new sanctions came into force on 1st January 2022.

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The legal Aid Board in the Netherlands is to begin a subsidy scheme experiment for divorce cases

The legal Aid Board in the Netherlands will begin a subsidy scheme experiment for complex divorce cases. The scheme will begin in February 2022 with the aim of uncovering how best to assist litigants in complex divorce cases, with a view to providing high quality legal aid assistance after an appropriate fee has been agreed.

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The Young Lawyers’ Committee and the Women in Practice Committee of Singapore are working to develop a workplace harassment prevention policy

The Young Lawyers’ Committee and the Women in Practice Committee of Singapore currently working in tandem to develop a key policy to address work place bullying. The harassment prevention policy is to be rolled out amongst Singapore law firms at some point next year.

It comes on the back of the Law Society of Singapore’s 2020 Pledge on Preventing Bullying and Harassment in Singapore’s Legal Profession endorsed by 21 of Singapore’s top law firms, to deal with bullying and harassment in the legal sector.

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The Legal Services Board of England and Wales has launched a consultation on its draft business plan and budget for 2022/23

The Legal Services Board of England and Wales business plan is an attempt to push forward its goals of reforming the legal sector to better serve the consumer and deliver fairer outcomes, stronger confidence and better services.

The proposed new strategy includes financial protection arrangements, consumer redress and the rule of law and regulation. Key to this is a review of professional indemnity insurance and compensation funds to ensure a balance between consumer rights and the cost of protecting these rights. It is hoped the draft plan will allow the LSB to make progress on reforming the legal sector and cement the role of legal professionals in society more broadly.

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The Legal Services Regulatory Authority of the Republic of Ireland is opening a public consultancy for the new profession of Conveyancer

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority is inviting interested parties to make written submissions ahead of a report to the Minister of Justice in relation to the creation of a new profession of conveyancer in Ireland.

The consultation pages, available through the link below, outline the type of submission, including suggested topics, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority is looking for.

The closing date for this is the 6th January 2022.

Read the full article here.

WTO negotiations on domestic services regulation have concluded successfully in Geneva

67 WTO member delegates participated in the Joint Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation, which aims to reduce administrative costs and create a more transparent environment for services providers to operate in when conducting business in foreign markets.

This initiative marks the first set of rules governing service regulation in nearly 25 years. The trade agreement covers licensing, qualification requirements, procedures and technical standards. The move has been welcomed by The Law Society of England and Wales, amongst a number of other professional bodies.

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The Bar Standards Board of England and Wales has published its regulatory decision making annual report

This is the second report of its type by the Bar Standards Board since the way regulatory decisions were made was reformed. The report finds that between April 2020 and March 2021 the number of reports and applications for exemptions substantially increased. This coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bar Standards Board has increased proactive supervision and support of the profession, focusing on key areas such as pupillage and bullying. Part of the this report has been to understand the impact of the pandemic on the profession and find out where support is most needed.

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Legal Education in Nigeria: A Chronicle of Reforms and Transformation Under Tahir Mamman

Legal Education in Nigeria: A Chronicle of Reforms and Transformation Under Tahir Mamman is a case study of change that tells the story of opportunities to transform legal education.

We can trace the history of legal education to about 1962 when the first indigenous law faculties and the Nigerian Law School were established. In spite of deafening calls for many years for reforms of legal education in Nigeria, not much was done except that the National Universities Commission introduced a uniform law programme in 1990. The calls for reforms continued thereafter.

Read the full paper here

Florida makes moves towards ABS licencing

On the 28th of June 2021, the Florida State Supreme Court’s Special Committee to Improve the Delivery of Legal Services (formulated by the Bar Board of Governors in November 2019), released their final report on changes in the legal sector.  The report is calling for further study on allowing some nonlawyers to have an ownership interest in law firms and fee-splitting with non-lawyer entities, as well as calling for the creation of a legal “lab” to allow testing of innovative ways of providing legal services.

Former Bar President John Stewart, chair of the special committee, said the report is a recognition that the legal marketplace is changing and an attempt to allow the legal profession to help design and control those changes, which it now is largely unable to do. Saying: “This committee and this report is part of the profession and the Bar being the architect of the changes that are happening in the legal profession and the legal services marketplace, before outside forces dictate changes we may not want. We don’t think change should happen for the sake of change or because people think there should be change. We think change should happen because of data.”

The committees work focused on the risk of the development of an unregulated market where bad actors can take advantage of the public. This led to calls for the creation of a sandbox, whereby services can be tested to better understand public protection goals. Members of the committee also discussed the impact of reforms on low-income consumers, suggesting that regulatory reform could improve access to justice within the state.

The only firm recommendation of the report was the formulation of the legal lab sandbox project, the lab, titled the Law Practice Innovation Lab Program, under the committee’s conceptual outline would be overseen by a Supreme Court commission and would run for at least three years. It would be based on a similar program in Utah. Ontario, British Columbia, and the United Kingdom.

The report included calls for further study into a range of regulatory reforms including lawyer advertising; referral fees; fee-splitting; entity regulation; regulation of online service providers; and regulation of nonlawyer providers of limited legal services including paralegals and other limited licence professionals.

Read more about the report and access the full report here.