It’s not news to you that the legal marketplace is changing. For bar association staff, one of our most pressing questions is, Are we helping you prepare to thrive in this new marketplace? That was the theme in Dallas at last week’s midyear meeting of the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE).
From the plenary address to hallway chatter, we’re learning more about how some major influences on the profession are having an impact.
- Economic difficulties: You’re feeling the pinch, and your clients are feeling it, too. You’re looking for clients, and your clients are looking for affordable services.
- Emerging technologies: From document engines to game theory-based dispute resolution, apps are changing the role of lawyers. Lawyers need to be at the top of their game to demonstrate their value.
- System changes: The public’s expectations of lawyers are changing, and the Courts and Legislatures are weighing in. We are no longer solely regulating lawyers, but regulating a more diverse legal market. This requires a significant shift in the way we think about the issues facing the legal profession.
It’s clear from talking with our peers across the country that the WSBA is ahead of the curve on much of this — Washington lawyers are modeling the insight, innovation and flexibility needed to navigate these changing times. What’s causing a buzz?
- The WSBA Moderate Means Program — our statewide free referral service that matches eligible moderate income clients with lawyers who scale their fees to rates clients can afford. Why? Because it’s helping lawyers grow their practices, giving them access to free CLEs and mentoring, and it’s helping lawyers meet clients’ increasing demands for affordable help.
- WSBA’s approach to New Lawyer Education — with fewer opportunities for new lawyers to gain their practice experience in the safety of a firm environment, we’re filling the gap by developing a continuum of support to develop competent, prepared, and professional new lawyers.
- Washington’s new Limited License Legal Technician rule — we’re out there on the forefront of access to justice, and all eyes are on Washington to see how lawyers adapt and embrace opportunities to distinguish the role of lawyers from the role of paraprofessionals.
The legal profession is at the beginning of a (r)evolution. I’m proud of Washington for paddling out to catch the proverbial wave.