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Too Often, Bar Associations Solve the Symptoms, but Not the Sickness

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 Correction (8/9/2017) – I’ve been informed that Law Charge, previously mentioned in this post, does not pay for endorsements and so I have removed any reference to that from this post.

Skimming through my aggregator, I came across a ludicrous article entitled Five Ways to Be Secretly Productive At a Meeting . Suggested activities included doodling, practicing mindfulness and daydreaming. In reading the post, however, the answer was obvious: simply ditch the lengthy meetings entirely (and indeed, the article’s last suggested meeting activity was to develop a plan to destroy time-wasting meetings).

Though it’s easy to laugh at the foolishness of this article, aren’t our bar associations doing the same thing?  Consider the following:

Few consumers use bar referral services any more, largely because there are so many other available options online to research legal issues, obtain DIY assistance and even find a lawyer. So instead of improving bar referral services to make them more competitive (the sickness), regulators try to stifle the symptoms with onerous and quite frankly, ridiculous restrictions on Avvo .

Many consumers are drawn to services like Legal Zoom not solely because they’re cheaper, but because they’re so easy to use: complete a form, enter a credit card and shortly thereafter, a will or incorporation shows up on the user’s doorstep. Most lawyers lack the ability to offer these quick and simple transactions: instead, clients must set up a meeting, trek to the lawyer’s office, sign a representation agreement, wait for the document and then receive a paper invoice to be paid by check a month later. So you’d think, regulators would make it easier for lawyers to accept payment by credit card. Instead, it’s still a huge hassle unless lawyers sign up for systems like  Law Pay – which mark-up the cost of credit card payments, but remain entrenched because of money they pay to sponsor bar associations.

There are dozens of other examples that I don’t have time to delve into now.  But the next time a legal ethics decision issues on a new technology issue, ask yourself whether it is solving the sickness or just a symptom. 

 

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