Mid-August often feels like summer doldrums. Yet, there has been so much recent information of interest in the world of legal ethics that it is hard to keep up. Thus, one can manage to feel simultaneously adrift and overloaded.
In that spirit (and because I am that “one”), here are a handful (plus 2) of laconic (if not insightful) entries about important things that have happened of late but that between the constant push/pull of overload and doldrums will not be written about here separately at any great length:
- The competitive space in the legal industry impacted by developments in artificial intelligence and the continued push of providers of legal services other than law firms had a “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” moment recently with the announcement that one of the Big 4 accounting firms – E&Y – was purchasing Riverview Law, which among other things is responsible for the AI product KIM. You can read a pretty good summary of what this might mean in the short (and long) term at the first link above and here.
- A California Bar task force is undertaking exploration of whether to change rules to permit people other than lawyers to own legal services firms. This move was prompted by a report the California Bar commissioned from a leading guru, Bill Henderson who you can keep up with here. Though action from this report could be seismic for the legal profession the task force isn’t scheduled to provide any such report until the end of 2019 by which time, California might not actually be able at the rate things are going to “go first.”
- Utah is about to be able to be added to the list of U.S. jurisdictions that allow limited licensing of paralegals so that they can practice certain types of law similar to Washington’s set up for Limited License Legal Technicians (LLLTs).
- LegalZoom put out a press release about having received a secondary investment of half a billion dollars in a deal that values it at $2 billion dollars total. (As the old joke goes, that is a tough amount of money to envision, so try thinking of a billion dollars as being represented by a one-hundred dollar bill and now imagine you had 2 of those!)
- A coalition of law firms (including law firm biggie Baker Hostetler – which you might recall as being the first major law firm to sign up with ROSS) and startups in the blockchain space have made a big announcement about an endeavor they intend to launch in October, as Forbes reports, to: “develop a new legal services platform called the Agreements Network. Originally revealed in April, the network is being designed to allow lawyers to perform tasks like managing contracts, leases, and governance documents via smart contracts that are compatible with the public ethereum blockchain.”
- The enacted-but-never-implemented “Persuader Rule” that I wrote some about many, many moons ago was rescinded by the Department of Labor, in part, having heard the concerns that were expressed by many over the harm it would inflict on attorney-client privilege and client confidentiality.
- And speaking of the intersection of government and legal ethics, the current occupant of The White House speaks of John Dean as if he were a villain in the story of Watergate. For those of us who focus on legal ethics, and are familiar with the role that the events of Watergate played in the evolution of modern legal ethics, that is a pretty chilling piece of information.