ABA Futures Commission Issues Report on the Future of Legal Services

August 12, 2016

Faced with a challenged and ever-changing legal profession, the American Bar Association (ABA) established the 30-member Commission on the Future of Legal Services in 2014. 

The Commission spent two years engaged in intensive research to document these challenges and propose solutions to the issues confronting the legal profession and the American public. Specifically, the Commission examined why meaningful access to legal services remains out of reach for too many Americans. The Commission also studied traditional and evolving legal service delivery models, scrutinized the strengths and weaknesses of the profession and justice system, and developed recommendations for ensuring that the next generation of legal services more effectively meets the public’s needs.

At the ABA annual meeting on August 6, the Commission presented its 96-page Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States, detailing difficulties and obstructions to the delivery of justice and issuing 10 broad recommendations. Among these recommendations was the establishment of a Center for Innovation. The new Center would “position the ABA as a leader and architect of the profession’s efforts to increase access to justice” and improve the delivery of those services to the public through “innovative programs and initiatives,” according to the report. 

Dean Daniel Rodriguez served as a member of the Commission. “I am pleased about the work we did as a Commission on innovation in legal services and am excited and optimistic about the progress which will come as the result of these efforts.”

In closing, ABA President-Elect Linda Klein pointed to the challenges ahead. “It’s neither easy nor comfortable to embrace change. But we’ve got to do it and we’ve got to do it now. It’s clear that lawyers have so much to offer to those who need help, but millions can’t access our services. This has to change, and we must be the drivers of innovations so others don’t do it for us.”