February 8, 2016: NYS Bar Association President Calls for Access to Justice and Protecting Public from Nonlawyer Practice of Law

David P. Miranda addresses Nation's Bar Association Presidents in San Diego

Speaking at the plenary session of the National Council of Bar Presidents meeting in San Diego on Saturday, New York State Bar Association President David P. Miranda said the legal profession and organized bar must find ways to resolve the unmet legal needs of the public and better connect lawyers with potential clients.

However, he cautioned, “As attorneys, we must be wary of nonlawyer legal services venture capitalists and Internet entrepreneurs who are more interested in profits than access to justice. We must not dilute lawyers' rules of professional conduct, put in place to protect the public, without serious thought."

The untold number of Americans without access to legal services, he said, challenges the profession to examine innovative ways to deliver legal services to low- and moderate-income Americans. “I don’t believe we’ve explored all the avenues. But certainly, we should not rely on nonlawyers whose work is not supervised by licensed lawyers.”

“To address the unmet legal needs of the public, the legal profession needs a better understanding of why individuals are not getting—or perhaps not seeking—legal assistance.  We cannot rely on decades-old surveys or anecdotal reports to assess the magnitude of the problem. We need to better define the problem before we can effectively solve it.”

Miranda spoke at the Council’s plenary session on legal services, “Where Are We Going and How Do We Get There?” Other panelists were Gillian Hadfield, professor of law and economics, University of Southern California; George T. “Buck” Lewis, past president, Tennessee Bar Association; and Andrew Perlman, dean, Suffolk University Law School. Carl D. Smallwood, past president of the Columbus Bar Association and past president of the National Council of Bar Presidents, was moderator.

Perlman is co-chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on the Future of Legal Services. Its report, Resolution 105, will be voted on by the ABA House of Delegates, which meets Monday, February 8, 2016 in San Diego, CA.

The New York State Bar Association is urging delegates to oppose Resolution 105 on the provision of legal services by nonlawyers because “we cannot lose sight of the core values of our profession and our commitment to ethical standards that define our profession,” Miranda said.

A related press release is available at: www.nysba.org/NoNLLSP/

The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.

Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director, Media Services and Public Affairs
Lbang-jensen@nysba.org
518-487-5530