Focus on Ethics & Civility

JurisdictionUtah,United States
CitationVol. 33 No. 2 Pg. 47
Publication year2020
Focus on Ethics & Civility
Vol. 33 No. 2 Pg. 47
Utah Bar Journal
April, 2020

March, 2020

Legal Industry Disruption May Be Here: A Primer on Regulatory Reform in Utah

By Keith A. Call

Over the past several years, I have watched with wonder and amazement at how the technology revolution has reformed various industries. Printed newspapers have almost disappeared. Ride sharing services, motorized scooters, and shared vehicles are changing the way we move. Brick and mortar retail stores can scarcely survive without taking full advantage of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

I have often wondered how and when technology will disrupt the legal industry in a major way. Oh, the legal industry has been impacted by technology, for sure. Legal research services (some of them free) have changed the way we research. Artificial intelligence has changed evidence review and handling. Words and acronyms like “e-filing” and “ESI” are part of our everyday vernacular. But we have not yet experienced wholesale industry disruption. Forbes Magazine described the impacts of technology on the legal industry as “drip, not disruption.” Mark A. Cohen, Legal Change: Why Drip, Not Disruption?, FORBES (Apr. 26, 2018), available at markcohen1/2018/04/26/legal-change-why-drip-not-disruption/#40d985911fbf.

That might be about to change. In late 2018, the Utah Supreme Court formed a work group to study ways to foster innovation and increase access to and affordability of legal services. The work group issued a report and recommendations in August 2019. See Narrowing the Access-to-Justice Gap by Reimagining Regulation: Report and Recommendations from the Utah Work Group on Regulatory Reform (Aug. 2019), available at (Report).

The Report begins by highlighting a serious access to justice problem in our country, which has been ranked 99th out of 126 countries in terms of access to and affordability of civil justice. Report at 1. The Report suggests numerous regulatory changes – changes that are sure to have a radical impact on lawyers and the business of law. As the work group that authored the report candidly acknowledged, “Our proposal will certainly be criticized by some and lauded by others.” Report at 22.

It is likely that you will either love or hate these changes. Because these changes are meant to have a radical impact on the legal industry in Utah, lawyers need to understand them and...

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