Rethinking Role of Non-Lawyers

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Long title: 
Rethinking the Role of Non-Lawyers: Restructuring Legal Education and Legal Practice
Rhode, Deborah
Author(s)' contact information: 
Yale University, USA
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London

This paper explores the barriers to reforming the American legal profession and argues for a greater role for non-lawyers in the delivery of legal services—a reform difficult to achieve under the current framework. From a regulatory standpoint, the American bar is in some sense a victim of its own success. In no country has the legal profession been more influential and more effective in protecting its right to regulatory independence. Yet that success, and the structural forces that ensure it, have also shielded the profession from the accountability and innovation that would best serve public interests. Those interests call for a greater role for non-lawyers in delivering routine legal services and in financing law firms. The paper explores the need for licensing such non-lawyer providers and for a more flexible structure of legal education with one and two year, as well as three year degrees, to train these paraprofessionals.

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