Broadening Our Bailiwick
John R. Lund, J.
I am excited for us. I am excited about our prospects as lawyers and as a profession. Why? Because people need us. They need us more than ever. Literally every minute, the world becomes more complex. And that means there should be more demand for clear thinkers, well-trained advocates, wise counselors, and principled professionals.
Why then do people with serious issues in their lives and businesses increasingly turn elsewhere? Why are so many going it alone, or at least lawyer-less, in court? You have likely heard the stat that in 80% of the domestic cases in the Utah courts, neither party has a lawyer. Maybe lots of those folks need simple, uncontested divorces, but even that is still a major upheaval and realignment of their lives.
Recently I helped a client with her simple divorce. There were no kids, no significant assets, no major issues. To save her money, I asked her to go to Utah’s On Line Court Assistance Program site, www.utcourts.gov/ocap/, and fill out the forms as best she could. As a millennial with a smart phone she was completely capable of using that technology; but, what about the cat? Did the cat need to be listed as part of the marital estate? Maybe something like that is simple or obvious to those of us with access to the statutes, law, and customs. Not so for those thousands of people going DIY in the court system.
It is not just individuals with their personal problems. It’s businesses too, both big and small. Calling the lawyer is the last thing they want to do. They’ll pull a form for a lease off the internet, have their financial guy handle HR issues, and decide where and how to form a new business entity based on wikihow. See wikiHow to Create a Business Entity, http://www.wikihow.com/ Create-a-Business-Entity (last visited Aug. 8, 2017). Let’s ask wikihow this: How did we lawyers become the option of last resort, instead of a company’s first call? Everyone knows about the importance of preventive medicine? Why aren’t more people endorsing preventive law? See National Center for Preventive law, http://www.preventivelawyer.org (last visited Aug. 8, 2017).
No doubt there are lots of reasons. One might be the modern reality: Everything that Anyone Knows or Thinks about Anything is at...