Globalization, new technologies, concerns over access to justice, and other disruptions to traditional regulatory and professional systems have changed the ways legal services are accessed and delivered in the United States and abroad. Recognizing that change and innovation in the profession may have implications for current regulatory models, the National Organization of Bar Counsel (NOBC) has monitored these developments as they have evolved in jurisdictions such as England and Australia. Indeed, the changing profession has been a feature of NOBC programming in recent years. In 2014, to more closely scrutinize and better understand the future of the profession in the international marketplace, I created an ad hoc NOBC International Committee.
The purpose of the Committee was to gather information on these topics, analyze the data, assess regulatory options, prepare surveys and reports, and provide these resources to the NOBC membership in easily accessible formats. The resources created by the Committee will enable member jurisdictions to evaluate the regulatory impacts and challenges posed by recent developments and to develop responses and local initiatives that will ensure the continued protection of the public and integrity of the profession. The NOBC has taken no position on the regulatory innovations studied by the Committee, and none should be inferred from these materials.
The Committee focused on four key areas of inquiry:
- Alternative Business Structures
- Entity Regulation
- Alternative Licensure
- State and International Reciprocity
To address these topics, four designated work groups were created, composed of NOBC members (including both U.S. and extraterritorial members), together with law school faculty with academic experience with these issues. Each group met, conferred, and generated pragmatic reports and surveys covering its assigned subject matter. The information is publicly available here on the NOBC website, and it will be updated periodically as new data and materials become available. The NOBC will feature the work of the International Committee, and maintain the focus on regulatory innovation, in future NOBC meeting programs.
As national and global developments affecting legal services markets attract ever greater attention, state supreme courts and bar leaders will look to regulatory and bar counsel for answers. The NOBC membership must be prepared and informed. The International Committee materials are intended to provide a ready source of talking points and information when a chief justice, state legislator, or executive director asks for your views and opinions. I am grateful to the members of the International Committee for their admirable and industrious efforts. I am confident that, with these materials, this organization can better educate itself, prepare for, and lead the transformations underway and on the horizon.
Questions? The membership of each work group with member contact information is listed on each of the areas’ webpages.
Tracy L. Kepler