I know. I’m either: (a) such a sucker for Utah-centric wordplay; (b) a lame, repetitive sort of humorist; or (c) both a and b.
But nevertheless today’s post is really important – at least the subject matter of it is – and so it is being designed to try to be short and sweet and get you, Dear Reader, to go read the source material.
I wrote about Arizona’s efforts in reshaping the legal regulatory landscape a couple of weeks ago. I emphasized how much faster it was moving than California. But Utah has gotten to something of the “finish line” on a very bold regulatory initiative even sooner.
This week it was announced that the Utah Supreme Court unanimously voted to approve the August 2019 Report and Recommendations from the Utah Work Group on Regulatory Reform.
So, for some light reading during this holiday weekend, I offer you the link below to download the Utah report itself – which was titled “Narrowing the Access-to-Justice Gap by Reimagining Regulation.”
To try to immediately pique your interest in reading it, here is the concluding paragraph:
Decade after decade our judicial system has struggled to provide meaningful access to justice to our citizens. And if we are to be truly honest about it, we have not only failed, but failed miserably. What this report proposes is game-changing and, as a consequence, it may gore an ox or two or upend some apple carts (pick your cliché). Our proposal will certainly be criticized by some and lauded by others. But we are convinced that it brings the kind of energy, investment, and innovation necessary to seriously narrow the access-to-justice gap. Therefore, we respectfully request that the Supreme Court adopt the recommendations outlined in this report and direct their prompt implementation.
For what it is worth, I also offer for you the four most important takeaways (in my opinion) about this development:
- The framing of the current legal landscape using the term “Age of Disruption,” is very good. It is not only quite accurate but a compelling choice of words.
- The Utah report manages to adroitly articulate a number of very important points about the fact that the need for regulatory reform and the problem of the lack of true access to justice in the U.S. are both intertwined with, and independent of, each other. The need for regulatory reform exists whether it will ultimately result in true access to justice or not. The need to strive toward true access to justice exists and must be addressed even if we don’t manage true regulatory reform. The report also says out loud what is often not said — that the lack of access to justice is not the fault of lawyers because it is not a problem that can be made to go away simply by volunteering more or donating more.
- I don’t know, however, that it helps to move any needles to be quoting Heraclitus exactly, given that he is most famously known for cosmology. While the point about “Life is flux” is well and good in terms of making the overall point that the only constant in life is change. I think the more appropriate reference for that point in the Age of Disruption is something better than an obscure 5th Century Greek. Probably would have been better to go with a more modern approach and use a variation of the message spoken by a well-known character in Grey’s Anatomy. (I’m largely kidding about this and it really doesn’t deserve to be treated as one of four takeaways. Having only “three” most important takeaways seemed cliché.)
- The Utah approach does the two things that, I believe, have to be done hand-in-hand to address this problem. Both freeing up lawyers to compete by paring down certain aspects of the ethics rules, AND establishing regulation to address those who are going to be out there doing the delivery of legal services but who are not lawyers. And, I happen to think that doing so through the “regulatory sandbox” approach Utah will pursue is the path that makes the most sense for that second piece.
Okay, enough about what I think about it. Put it in your reading pile, find a relaxing spot this weekend and read it for yourself and see what you think.