Canadian Bar Association Releases Legal Futures Initiative Consultation Report
The CBA undertook a broad consultation of the legal profession and other stakeholders starting in June 2013:
"Between June 2013 and January 2014, the Legal Futures Initiative distributed personalized correspondence inviting comment from over three hundred institutions and organizations, presented to audiences both internationally and within Canada, coordinated in-person consultations with stakeholder groups, and led vibrant discussions through twitter and through content published on the Legal Futures Initiative’s website (...)"The Legal Futures Initiative will present its comprehensive report with recommendations in August of 2014.
"Responses to the consultation demonstrated two over-arching perspectives: those who believe that change is happening in the legal profession, and those who doubt that transformative change is occurring or that there are compelling reasons to meet that change. The respondents who cautioned against the need for change often expressed strong support for the public policy reasons underlying lawyers’ existing regulatory regimes; similarly, they voiced reservations about liberalizing business structures for fear of creating more 'Big Law' while compromising the ability to lawyer in the public interest or for under-served practice areas like family and criminal defence law. Respondents holding opposing views took a different perspective on lawyers’ responsibilities towards the public; these respondents indicated that the various means by which clients are demanding changes to legal services are proof that the profession needs to genuinely transform itself from the inside out to retain the public’s trust."
"The consultation feedback also unearthed different perspectives as some topics engaged reﬂections on the past and the present, whereas others were more conducive to imagining future possibilities. The Legal Futures Initiative’s questions on education garnered feedback on the cost, length, and form of law school education, as well as on the utility of post-call training, but largely in reference to respondents’ own experiences. Innovating within one’s practice structure, or through re-structuring legal service delivery, was a better vehicle for respondents to identify their visions of the future. Imbued throughout the consultation were questions of whether – and how – regulators can support innovation in the profession, and how regulators would ensure lawyers’ continued professionalism in new business structures. Finally, an underlying theme was the composition of today’s profession: who within the profession can take advantage of these innovations, which segments of the profession bear the burden of reform, and what cautions and opportunities arise from applying the dual lenses of diversity/ inclusivity and access to justice to future innovations."
"In whole, the consultation illuminated a single reality: there really is no consensus on the future of the legal profession."