LSO Permitting Approved Non-Licensees to Provide Innovative Technological Legal Services Under Regulatory Pilot Project
For several reasons, including rising legal costs and lack of access to justice, many Canadians do not seek out lawyers to help with their legal issues. In fact, 80% of the legal needs of Canadians are not served by the traditional approach used by lawyers.
Earlier this year, the Law Society of Ontario Convocation took one step to address this issue by approving a five-year regulatory pilot which will allow any individual or entity (does not need to be a lawyer or paralegal) to apply to be part of a “Regulatory Sandbox for Innovative Technological Legal Services”. Once approved by the LSO, the participants in the program will be able to provide “innovative technological legal services” under the supervision of the LSO for a period of generally two years. This pilot program is important because it means that “non-lawyers” will be able to provide legal services to the public, something that has, up until now, only been reserved for licensees (lawyers and paralegals).
While it is unclear what type of programs or technological tools might be available to the public under this program, they could be similar to the legal tech services already available to lawyers and law firms, such as technology that analyzes or drafts contracts, legal research memos, wills or other testamentary documents, or perhaps analyzes case outcomes or predicts damages awards, etc.
The LSO anticipates opening the program to applicants in October 2021. It will be interesting to see who applies. Meanwhile, the LSO has just published the job posting for the manager of the regulatory sandbox, in case you are interested in applying!
Some feel that regulatory sandboxes are a good way to move legal innovation forward. However, others think it is not going far enough and want the LSO to stay out of regulating legal innovation all together.
What are your thoughts? Let us know!
You can read more about it the pilot program here.
Flex's founder, Erin Cowling, was a guest on Catherine Shearer's Happy Lawyer podcast.
On the episode, Erin and Catherine talk about:
· Erin's journey from big law to unemployment to becoming a freelance lawyer and creating Flex Legal
· Lawyer struggles with mental health
· The importance of finding your values
· Identifying what isn’t working in your career
· The importance of creating a network
· How to make networking less daunting & more fun
You can listen to the episode HERE.
Ashleigh and Erin were happy to have a chance to talk to Bianca Thomas of the CBA's Women Lawyers Forum about Flex Legal's innovative role in providing lawyers with flexible work arrangements.
Bianca's article "Making Flex Time Work" discusses both the positive aspects and the possible misconceptions that employers (and law firms) may have about non-traditional work arrangements. The full article can be found here.
Flex is delighted to be featured on the podcast "On The Record" by Hassell Trial Counsel. Ashleigh Frankel was interviewed by Mick Hassell about Flex Legal Network and how our freelance lawyers assist sole practitioners, firms, and in-house legal departments. The podcast can be found here.
On The Record also includes interviews with lawyers Karen McArthur, Darryl Singer, and Jack Fireman, as well as some tips on trial fundamentals and preparing for cross-examinations.
"We know that other people in the legal industry are building wonderful things. We tend to like odd, creative, hardworking, and obsessive people that are building interesting things and pushing to do better. We started Building NewLaw to give us an excuse to call these people. We hope that the Building NewLaw Podcast is much more. We hope that Building NewLaw will create a platform that allows us all to share, learn, and gain inspiration. We believe that, together, we are smarter, better, faster, and stronger. We believe that, together, we can create the new legal industry standard."
The first four episodes were released today:
Episode 1: Welcome to Building NewLaw with Peter and Natalie
Episode 2: Ask Your Client Questions & Build the Solution with Morgan Borins of Caravel Law (formerly Cognition LLP)
Episode 3: Freelance Lawyering and the Unlaw Firm with Erin Cowling of Flex Legal Network
Episode 4: Remaking Law Firms (Part 1) with Dr. George Beaton of Beaton Research + Consulting
This is a great podcast for anyone interested in finding out more about "New Law" or the Canadian legal landscape in general. We look forward to listening to future podcasts!
For those of us engaged in New Law practices and challenging the status quo of the legal profession, it is exciting to see the recently released report "Do Law Differently: Futures for Young Lawyers" by the CBA Legal Futures Initiative. This report, written by Jordan Furlong, provides a road map, survival tips, and tools and resources for young lawyers (arguably any lawyer) interested in forging an alternative career in New Law.
This comprehensive guide looks back on how the Canadian legal landscape has changed, and how it will change through regulatory liberalization, competitive pressures, and technology advances, to name a few. The Report also provides an overview of emerging career opportunities. Furlong writes: "While 'lawyer jobs' decline, there should be a growing number of 'lawyer opportunities'". Several distinct types of additional or alternative career paths are covered, including freelance lawyering (yay!), working with artificial intelligence, legal project management, and engaging in preventative law (proactive rather than reactive legal services). Emotional intelligence, entrepreneurial spirit, network building and financial literacy are just some of the skills the Report predicts will be required in the new legal market landscape.
The Report finishes with some great survival tips from New Law "Pioneers" and an "Index of Innovation" listing suggested books, blogs, and other resources.
Flex loves to see Canadian lawyers "doing law differently" and only wish that this guide was around when we were in law school.
The full report can be accessed by CBA members here.
Last week Erin and Ashleigh were privileged to meet with Hersh Perlis a Director of the Legal Innovation Zone (or LIZ) at Ryerson University to discuss the future of law.
Described as “a co-working space for the people and ideas that will change the status quo of Canada’s legal system”, LIZ was launched last April with former Attorney General of Ontario, Chris Bentley, at the helm. LIZ welcomes everyone from entrepreneurs and lawyers to tech experts with a goal to drive innovation. In addition to the co-working space, the legal incubator also provides the support and resources for people to work on their own ideas for justice and legal system solutions. A tour of the facilities revealed a modern and supportive environment that we are sure will give birth to new ways to disrupt the legal profession.
Most recently LIZ hosted a five session community collaboration initiative to reform family law in Ontario and benefit parents and children of separating families. The participants ranged from lawyers, mediators, and students to financial professionals and the public at large. The “better approach” produced by the collaborative workshop will be presented to the Attorney General of Ontario in February.
Also, just last week LIZ announced its partnership with Osler Hoskin and Harcourt LLP, which will provide LIZ's start-ups with resources and feedback from a large firm. The first initiative between the partners will be a hackathon next month involving Osler lawyers, clients, and other industry participants. The hackathon will look at "how 'biglaw' can be done differently to create greater client value". Flex is thrilled to see large, established firms supporting LIZ. Let’s bring “big law” and “new law” to the table more often for collaboration.
We look forward to following the latest developments from LIZ.
In the Fall 2015 edition of the legal magazine Precedent, our "FlexRate Model" was featured in the "Innovation"column in the article: "Why some lawyers are letting clients decide how much to pay on their legal bills". We are delighted to be mentioned in this edition of the magazine which focuses on what the legal industry is "doing right". You can read the full article here.
Are you a busy lawyer looking for experienced help?