“It is the discussions themselves, and this culture of conscious reassessment, which will best ensure the future of Missouri’s legal profession and maximize the service we provide to society.”

William R. Bay and Hon. Paul C. Wilson, Task Force Co-Chairs

“Weep not that the world changes – did it keep a stable, changeless state, it were cause indeed to weep.”

William Cullen Bryant, Mutation

“Nothing changes but the changes, Slick.”

Gary Busey to Kris Kristofferson, A Star is Born (1976)

INTRODUCTION

The law exists to preserve and protect liberty, and the legal profession exists to bring the promise of the law into reality. As the society we serve changes, however, the legal profession must consciously reassess whether the rules, procedures, traditions and habits that have been developed over so many years continue to serve these core principles efficiently and effectively. These practices all impose some cost on courts, attorneys, or their clients. When each practice was created, a conscious decision was made that its benefits outweighed its costs. But, with society changing at an ever-increasing pace, we must routinize the process of reassessment to ensure that the benefits of the practices borne down to us by law and tradition continue to outweigh their costs in an increasingly complex world. The purpose of this Task Force, and its Report below, is to stimulate that process.

William R. Bay and Hon. Paul C. Wilson, Task Force Co-Chairs

William R. Bay
Paul C. Wilson

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

A joint Missouri Bar – Supreme Court task force has completed its review of key issues likely to face the legal profession in the coming years and issued a report making recommendations designed to help lawyers better address the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The Joint Task Force on the Future of the Profession was created when then-Chief Justice Mary Russell invited the Board of Governors of The Missouri Bar to join the Supreme Court in creating a task forced dedicated to examining issues facing the legal profession in the near future. Through its subcommittees, the task force focused on the future of the profession from four diverse perspectives: legal education and entry into the profession; leaving or limiting the practice of law; the impact of technology on Missouri’s lawyers and courts; and increasing accessibility of legal services and the sustainability of law practice.

Recommendations

I. Legal Education and Entry into the Profession

  • Require newly licensed lawyers to participate in a mentoring program within their first year of practice.
  • Encourage and support law schools in the development of additional and practical learning experiences such as law school incubator and residency programs.
  • Develop programs designed to encourage newly licensed lawyers to practice law in underserved rural areas.
  • Avoid the adoption of state-specific “add-ons” to securing a legal education or admission to the Bar.
  • Work to position Missouri to be a leader in national discussions promoting legal education and bar admission standards that encourage exploring of education models that will better prepare law students for the practice of law in the future.
  • Support programs and initiatives that seek to protect and restore the value of a law license as an embodiment of the profession’s integral role as the caretaker of the Rule of Law.
  • Hire staff whose duties and responsibilities would oversee implementation of the short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals recommended by the task force.

II. Leaving or Limiting the Practice of Law

  • Revise Rule 6.035 to allow lawyers 65 and older to elect to retire and avoid MCLE obligations and inactive fees. Lawyers taking retirement status would be authorized to provide pro bono legal services under certain circumstances.
  • Revise Rule 5.26 to permit an attorney to name a trustee to transition his or her law practice due to disability, death or discipline. Any member of the Bar in good standing would be eligible to serve as a trustee.
  • Develop a long-term communication strategy to: educate its members about the importance of retirement planning, with emphasis on newer lawyers, including specific strategies; targeting young lawyers and those at later stages of their careers; educating members new and old about the proposed surrogacy rule and how it works; and educating members about the proposed retirement rule and how it works.

III. Technology and Its Impact on the Practice of Law

  • Prioritize the ongoing, meaningful tracking and consideration mid- to-long term technology issues via permanent qualified committees or other appropriate means, preferably in communication and cooperation with the judiciary on matters of shared or common concern.
  • Actively assist membership as to relevant technology, not only by offering education, but also by evaluating technology services and providers and otherwise assisting lawyers in exercising due diligence and reasonable care as to tech-related issues and concerns.
  • Survey members with regularity and as needed on “future of the profession” and other significant issues, including but not limited to technical competency.
  • Remain vigilant to privacy concerns of clients and the public as technology advances and expands.
  • Encourage and help firms and attorneys to value, commit to, and achieve healthier work-life balances and quality of life for both lawyers and staff, and take steps to preserve the enduring principles of decorum and civility in the practice of law.

IV. Access to Legal Services and Sustainability of Law Practice

  • Advocate a change to the United States Tax Code adding “legal services” to the list of authorized expenditures made under group cafeteria plans.
  • Endorse the use of legal insurance by reputable providers.
  • Expand the existing community partnership program to include bar sponsorship of small business incubators.
  • Coordinate, with the assistance of local bar associations, the use of rapid response teams to provide legal service in areas of special or emergent needs.
  • Expand and simplify The Missouri Bar website to allow potential clients ready access to information necessary to evaluate and retain counsel.
  • Support the work of the Supreme Court’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness, assist in the implementation of the recommendations of the task force, and continue working to implement the recommendations of the Joint Commission on Women in the Profession.

Members

The task force was co-chaired by Judge Paul C. Wilson of the Supreme Court and attorney William R. Bay of St. Louis.

Subcommittee on Education and Entering the Profession

  • Hon. Cynthia Martin, Co-Chair
  • Countess Price, Co-Chair
  • Thomas Vincent Bender
  • Kathryn Busch
  • Matt Depaz
  • Hon. Judy Draper
  • Kellie Early
  • Hon. Phil Hess
  • Peter Joy
  • Alexandra Nieves
  • Hon. Jalilah Otto
  • Jerina Dominique Phillips
  • Dean Ellen Suni
  • Hon. Michael Wolff

Subcommittee on Leaving and Limiting the Practice of Law

  • Hon. Clifford Ahrens, Co-Chair
  • Jennifer Gille Bacon, Co-Chair
  • Dana Tippin Cutler
  • Doreen Davis Dodson
  • Michael P. Downey
  • Hon. John Holstein
  • Robert Kenney
  • Christina R. Neff
  • Alan Pratzel
  • Christian A. Stiegemeyer
  • Sheldon Stock
  • Hon. James Welsh

Subcommittee on Technology and its Impact on the Legal Profession

  • Hon. Daniel Scott, Co-Chair
  • Shira Truitt, Co-Chair
  • Keith Bae
  • Hon. Jon Beetem
  • Hon. Julian Bush
  • Hon. Jeffrey Bushur
  • Michael David Cole
  • Tina Gardner Fowler
  • Sandra Si Yun Oh
  • Hon. Thomas Redington
  • Hon. Ellen Levy Siwak
  • John F. Wilcox, Jr.

Subcommittee on Access to Legal Services and Sustainability of Legal Practice

  • Hon. David Evans, Co-Chair
  • Antwaun Smith, Co-Chair
  • Kim Bousquet
  • Jose Caldera
  • Hon. Christine Carpenter
  • Hon. Larry Harman
  • Hon. Karen King Mitchell
  • Hon. Steven Ohmer
  • Gerald Ortbals
  • Hon. Mark Pfeiffer
  • Thomas Robison
  • Hon. Mary White Sheffield
  • Hon. Kristie Swaim
  • Shelby Watson
  • Raymond Williams

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