Innovation and Reform in the Delivery of Legal Services (21069). 1.5 units. The market for legal services, estimated to be greater than $400b in the US alone, has historically been dominated by a single means of delivery: Licensed lawyers working either on their own or through a firm wholly-owned by lawyers. Often such firms underinvest in technology and process, to the extent that they invest at all.
This model has failed to fully serve its intended audience. According to the American Bar Association, 92% of middle-income Americans with a serious legal problem do not seek the help of a lawyer. This prompted ABA president William Hubbard to remark that the legal profession “must develop a new model to meet the needs of the underserved.”
Bars and state regulators have responded in a number of ways, including proposed reforms by state bar officials. In the United Kingdom and Australia, laws have been changed to permit non-lawyer ownership of a law firm. The private sector has taken increasingly vigorous action, growing into a burgeoning field of businesses attacking the problem using different business models and executions. For example, in 2009, only 15 legal startups were listed on the popular private-funding website AngelList; today there are over 900 with more than 1,200 different investors.
Fundamentally, a deregulating market has challenges and opportunities. Students of this course will be graduating just as a multi-hundred-billion-dollar industry undergoes a sea change, with enormous consequences both here and abroad. Through this course, we hope to inform students of the potential to both create new businesses and to bring about meaningful social change.
This course will explore: The sources of friction in the marketplace for legal services; the impact of non-consumption on business and society; private sector approaches to the problem, with a special emphasis on entrepreneurial disruptors; deregulation, and its potential to create new markets and be a force for social good. Furthermore, the course will facilitate student mock-legal-tech venture creation with the participation of noted experts and authors in the field. Ten Law students may be accepted in the course. Also MGT 651b. E. Hartman.
Note: This course will meet during the Spring-2 session at the School of Management and will follow the School of Management calendar.