Innovations in the Provision of Legal Services in the United States

An Overview for Policymakers

by Neil Rickman, James M. Anderson

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Over the past 20 twenty years, globalization, consolidation, information technology, and litigation financing have begun to change the way that many legal services are provided in the United States. The innovations that have occurred have often been influenced by experiences elsewhere, as in the case of traditional prohibitions on litigation financing, for which the United Kingdom and Australia have led the way in relaxing rules. The same globalization and offshoring of information services that have occurred in accounting, product support, and medical transcription have begun to occur in legal services. Yet numerous restrictions on the provision of legal services — from traditional restrictions on litigation and firm financing to the requirement that a legal provider be a licensed attorney in a particular state — limit the kinds of innovation that are permissible. The authors present a framework for examining recent and ongoing innovations in legal services in the United States. The purpose of this framework is to aid policymakers in understanding the likely effects of innovations and the role of policy in promoting or deterring innovation, and to provide criteria that policymakers might use to decide whether the advantages of an innovation justify loosening existing restrictions. The authors also discuss the further research and data infrastructure necessary to aid policymakers in understanding whether existing restrictions should be altered.

Table of Contents

  • Section One

    Introduction

  • Section Two

    The Existing Legal System in the United States

  • Section Three

    A Framework for Analyzing Innovation in Legal Services

  • Section Four

    The Potential for Innovation in Legal Services: Examples and Research Questions

  • Section Five

    Conclusions

This research was sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and was conducted within the Kauffman-RAND Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy, which is housed within RAND Law, Business, and Regulation.

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