First, I want to thank my family and friends for their support after my July car accident. I thought I would be writing this piece in September to appear on the anniversary of my application to the Washington State Bar Association. However, I am just now able to spend time writing. Today is actually the 5th birthday for Traklight’s software, so it is still an anniversary of sorts.
The last year has been one of firsts: sold Evolve Law; stopped traveling weekly; passed the UBE; started practicing law and teaching undergraduates; and most recently, with support, lobbied successfully to lead a spring access to justice (through technology) law school class at my alma mater.
As I have talked about before, studying after seven years out of law school at my “advanced” age was definitely a different route than most to a law license. Now as a lawyer, my entrepreneurial experience is helpful substantively and empathically. And of course, now I can speak about the business of legal services with more authority. I am actually in the process of implementing net promoter score (NPS) with my clients, and NimbusLegal uses Traklight to triage potential clients. But, I am definitely swimming against the tide of lawyers fleeing the practice.
Earlier this spring, as I set out on a more traditional practice and teaching path, I wrote about how I was not attending conferences, other than to educate. My call to action in that May article was less talk, more action. I have seen other pieces written along the same lines about the “echo chamber.” But I have to confess, I broke my self-imposed ban on attending conferences to participate in the first day of Clio’s Cloud Conference. I am not sorry because I was again inspired by the commitment there by Clio and others to access to justice.
Clio’s motto — “transform the practice of law, for good” — resonates with me because it includes the change that we need in the delivery of legal services, whether with new technology, alternative dispute resolution, or expansion of licensing beyond lawyers. Also the transformation is not limited to the attorneys, it’s for the good of the client as CEO Jack Newton again emphasized in his keynote. We need to start with law school reform to truly change and broaden legal services.
The picture of an iceberg underwater that represents the unmet legal need of almost 80 percent of Americans should be expanded to include both those who did not even know that they need legal services and people who can be served by a yet undeveloped service to solve their problems. In other words, the latent legal market is not just the 4 out of 5 Americans who cannot access justice, but rather it’s likely more than double that number. This is an amazing market size to have as a challenge! As Jordan Couch and Irene Mo wrote here, “Don’t fear the future. Shape it.”
I encourage every lawyer to go beyond talking about access to justice, and take action, whether that is pro bono or something else (keeping in mind that all 1.34 million lawyers need to donate 900 hours to keep up with the justice gap per Dr. Gillian Hadfield). Go beyond meetings to create experiments or pilots, just like at the townhall meeting during the Clio conference, led by Patrick Palace and Nicole Bradick, where actual projects emerged (more soon on those).
My contribution will be having free personal and business legal checkups on my website, Juetten Law. Also, my offer still stands to do free webinars for attorney groups, companies, and bar associations on how to shift to a data-driven law practice. Implementing key performance indicators (KPIs), process reviews based on data, and delegating tasks all will unburden lawyers from some of non-legal administrative duties, while increasing profits and providing more time to serve more clients. Finally, I will be a champion for flat fees and subscriptions to help more businesses access legal services as the justice gap is not limited to low and moderate means individuals.
Contact me @maryjuetten on Twitter to share your access to justice ideas or project. Also, if you would like to provide thoughts for law school reform, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. #onwards