ABS: Legal Mosaic’s Blurred View

An article by Mark A. Cohen, published on his Legal Mosaic site, discusses one view of the future of the legal profession. It is a view in which alternative business structures abound, and legal professionals have divided our work the way doctors do: with “para professionals” doing most of the work that requires dealing with people, and a small number of lawyers giving legal advice on rare and complicated issues.

My response is as follows:

Perhaps “lawyers are usually the ones on the front line of stifling needed reform,” because the “reform” is neither needed nor useful. The “reform” described is one that would kill the jobs of 99% of lawyers while giving the remaining 1% jobs where all they do is the most stressful part of legal work — advising in life or death situations — now made even more stressful by their having to rely on clerks or other staff to do the research and client interviews those decisions are based on.

The biggest problem with this vision of the future of law, is that is based on the way that the medical profession has changed, without acknowledging one simple fact. Changes in the medical profession have not made healthcare financially accessible. Health insurance makes healthcare accessible. People who do not have health insurance exist in an Access to Healthcare Crisis that is at least as bad as the access to justice crisis. So this suggestion of a future for the legal profession is merely one in which all the profit goes to the 1%, while the people who need legal services still don’t get them.

I must, however, thank the author for answering a question that no one else has touched, although I’ve asked several times in discussions of similar potential futures for law firms in Canada: Cui Bono?

Clearly the only ones who benefit are those who are — or think they should be — among the “rarefied cadre of” lawyers who provide “bespoke” services or who are “celebrity” lawyers. Oh, and also profiting would be the hospital administrators — which would translate to the CEO’s who run the future Big-Law Corporations.

Sadly it’s not even clear that they would profit… using a medical services model for access, without writing in someone to play the part of the health insurance companies, leaves a situation where legal services are still not affordable, and there’s no external source of money coming in to keep these businesses afloat.



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M. Anne Vespry

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