ABA President: “However, a rush to open the practice of law to unschooled, unregulated nonlawyers is not the solution.”

August 31st, 2011

In this letter to the Editor, the ABA President responds to a piece last week about addressing the justice gap through deregulation of the legal profession.

The American Bar Association strongly agrees that our nation must expand access to justice for low-income Americans (“Addressing the Justice Gap,” editorial, Aug. 24).

However, a rush to open the practice of law to unschooled, unregulated nonlawyers is not the solution. This would cause grave harm to clients. Even matters that appear simple, such as uncontested divorces, involve myriad legal rights and responsibilities. If the case is not handled by a professional with appropriate legal training, a person can suffer serious long-term consequences affecting loved ones or financial security. It also could lead to a violation of the law.

The A.B.A. believes that more funding is needed for legal assistance for the poor. The Legal Services Corporation, which provides core funding for the legal aid system, deserves the full appropriation ($450 million) proposed by the president.

Make no mistake: the organized bar is doing its part. The A.B.A. supports lawyer-contributed pro bono services and calls on state bar associations to implement reporting of pro bono work.

We also endorse a unique solution to legal aid funding known as Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts. Unfortunately, that historical financial resource has declined substantially during the economic downturn, making federal support for the Legal Services Corporation even more essential for the growing population in poverty.

Addressing the justice gap requires all segments of society, not lawyers alone, to shoulder responsibility. Nothing is more precious than our freedom, and that comes from access to justice. We must expand legal services for those in need, provided by first-rate trained lawyers.

Shocker. The head of the lawyer’s cartel wants to increase access to justice by having taxpayers pay for more legal services, rather than allowing any sort of competition on the marketplace.