The State Bar formed a Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (ATILS) in 2018 study online legal service delivery models and to determine if regulatory changes are needed to increase access to legal services through the use of technology. The Task Force submitted its final recommendations to the Board of Trustees in March 2020. The recommendations included exploration of the development of a regulatory sandbox. This sandbox would be a temporary regulatory structure established to allow participants to test innovative business models, products, and services, in a supervised environment that ensures collection of data to inform whether future changes to rules and laws governing the practice of law would result in benefits and/or risks of harm to consumers. In response, the State Bar’s Board of Trustees directed the formation of a Working Group on Closing the Justice Gap.
On March 24, 2022, the Board of Trustees adopted amendments to the Closing the Justice Gap Working Group charter. The full text of the charter follows:
The Working Group on Closing the Justice Gap is charged with exploring the development of a regulatory sandbox to encourage the development of innovative legal service delivery models serving clients at all income levels through the collaboration of lawyers, law firms, technologists, entrepreneurs, and others. As a guiding principle in carrying out its work, the working group must balance the dual goals of ensuring public protection and increasing access to legal services for all Californians.
The working group will develop specific recommendations regarding the following:
The working group shall submit its recommendations to the Board of Trustees no later than May 2023.
The working group’s members were selected and appointed to ensure that a wide variety of perspectives are fully and thoughtfully considered in this exploration of fundamental shifts to the traditional practice of law. The working group includes experts whose work focuses on the nexus of legal services, technology, and regulatory reform. It also includes members from important practitioner groups as well as members continuing from ATILS—who bring deep experience in California’s legal services community and expertise in legal ethics—to provide continuity with that foundational effort.
Fact Sheet: Closing the Justice Gap Working Group