Summary of Concerns Facing the Profession
SOURCE: NEW HAMPSHIRE BAR ASSOCIATION 2005 FALL CONFERENCE
A system needs to be created where everyone who wants a lawyer gets a lawyer and the system is easily accessible. The quid pro quo for such a system is that everyone is treated identically, in terms of the application of rules of procedure.
An adjunct of this is the concept of a “Civil Gideon”: That everyone has the right to counsel of they are facing (i) the loss of familial rights (custody, parental termination of rights, adoption), (ii) the loss of benefits necessary to basic survival (medical benefits, end-of-life proceedings, competency, guardianships, etc.), and (iii) loss of housing (eviction proceedings, foreclosure proceedings, etc.)
Another concept which was discussed is mandatory pro bono publico service.
The court must fully develop and fund all types of dispute resolution services to create options short of full trial to resolve problems.
The Courts are adequately funded (in terms of plant and personnel) and they are on the cutting edge of technology. Thought was also given to unbundled judicial services and specialized courts (business courts, landlord-tenant courts, etc.)
Great effort needs to be placed on educating society about the value of using a lawyer in the system.
Great effort needs to be placed on educating society about the judicial system – how it works, what its constitutional and legal limits are, and the importance of enforcement of the rule of law. A renewed commitment to Law Related Education (LRE) and public information outreach needs to occur.
The Bar Association must commence work to create Guideposts involving the quality of life of lawyers. If it does not perform this work, who will? There seemed to be much support for the assassination of the hourly billing method – driven by both quality of life and affordability of legal services concerns.
The Bar Association must create law office – practice management resources for use by lawyers. This includes assistance in technology, human resources, practice management skills, etc.
The Bar Association must work on the diversity (race, culture, etc.) of the profession. This includes sensitivity to these issues in programming (bar activities and events), creation of welcoming environments, as well as educational forums and encouragement to firms.
The profession needs to create/amend rules to allow people to obtain one-stop shopping through law firms in order to address their needs. This implicates a new look at the confines on multi-disciplinary practice.