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Last Post 23 Jun 2020 09:44 AM by  Yolanda Fox
R-20-0034 Petition to Restlye and Amend Supreme Court Rule 31; Adopt New Rule 33.1; and Amend Rules 32, 41, 42 (Various ERs from 1.0 to 5.7), 46-51, 54-58, 60, and 75-76
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RMK
New Member
Posts:3 New Member

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05 Mar 2020 03:21 PM
Ronda Kelso, SBN 023301
2390 East Camelback Road, Suite 403
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
(602) 777-7000

I would also like to register objection to the proposed Alternative Business Structures which is not covered in R-20-0034. The licensing for non-lawyer entities is a slippery slope which permits a style of law firm which appears legitimate and full service to the public, but is not a true law firm. The nuances and intricacies of representation are ours, as attorneys, to hold, understand and be accountable for.
Jonathan Negretti
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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06 Mar 2020 09:56 AM
I oppose this petition for a variety of reasons. Allowing non-lawyers to practice law without proper oversight is a recipe for disaster. The legal profession already finds itself ranked low on lists regarding consumer confidence. Opening up the practice of law to non-lawyers will dramatically increase the potential for abuse within the profession. Linking lawyers, who are barred and monitored by a regulatory commission to non-lawyers (who presumably will not be governed in the same way) creates a melting pot that could ultimately drive consumer confidence even lower.

Fee sharing with non-lawyers also causes consternation. It opens the doors to major corporations to commercialize and commoditize law firms. It promotes an industry solely driven by profit with justice and client concerns falling by the wayside.

It also seems that this petition and rule change directly conflict with the rules of ethics for a variety of reasons. Although I may not agree with every rule that I am subject to as an attorney, I appreciate and understand the rules and certainly abide by them. This petition and rule change seem to allow non-lawyers to sidestep rules that don't suit their initiatives.

It appears that more conversations must occur before rules are changed and/or amended to allow non-lawyers to practice law.

Jonathan Negretti
Principal Attorney
Negretti & Associates
2415 E Camelback Rd Ste 700
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Phone: (602) 531-3911
Trevor Orme
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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06 Mar 2020 10:22 AM
Trevor Orme
5500 North 24th Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
(602) 285-4411
trevor@slaviceklaw.com

I echo the words and sentiments of the long list of those here who oppose Petition No. 20-0034.

While the goal of the amendment is praiseworthy, the means by which it accomplishes it (eliminating Ethical Rule 5.4, allowing non-lawyers to own, manage, and make decisions for law firms and their clients) creates a different, perhaps worse, problem.
Michael Resare
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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06 Mar 2020 11:17 AM
Michael B. Resare
King & Frisch, P.C
6226 E. Pima Suite 150
Tucson AZ 85712
520-790-4061
mresare@kfazlaw.com

I oppose this petition because I do not believe that implementing it will solve the issue surrounding access to justice. Other comments have already explained in detail how creating Limited License Legal Practitioner (LLLP) depreciates the value of the legal profession and is not thoroughly researched, so I will not reiterate it.

Simply put, the issue for access to justice is that there are groups of people who are excluded from legal service because they cannot afford it. The proposal being considered to fix the issue is it is to create a new group of LLLP to provide that service.

I would propose an alternate solution to the issue, one with an easier solution that keeps in place all the well-established ethical rules. My proposal would be to lower the State Bar Pass Score requirement from 273 to 260. This would allow more qualified legal professionals into the State that have to comply with all of the current ethical rules and requirements that have been long established.

These additional lawyers would be more qualified than any LLLP because they would have gone to law school and have a tested understanding of the ethical rules and requirements. It is a supply and demand issue. If the state allows more attorneys into the practice of law in Arizona, attorneys’ fees would become more affordable due to competition and thus would result in more affordable legal service to the groups of people currently lacking it. Instead of recreating the wheel by adding many less qualified LLLP to the legal profession in Arizona, it would be more effective to add more qualified lawyers to the profession.

Yolanda Fox
Basic Member
Posts:158 Basic Member

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06 Mar 2020 12:33 PM
Randal L. Hutson, Esq.
The Hutson Law Firm, PLLC.
22849 N. 19th Ave.,Suite 135
Phoenix, Arizona 85027
Direct Line: (623) 628-7400

While I strongly oppose the Petition in its entirety and believe it is a very bad proposal, if non-lawyers are permitted to have an ownership interest in law practices, it is my opinion that any non-lawyer ownership should be limited to a nominal amount. Is there no limit to the ownership interest non-lawyers will be able to have? Will non-lawyers be able to own law practices in fee simple absolute, or near it, and run that that way? Also, although I object to any non-lawyer ownership, I also believe there is a significant difference between permitting entities and big money to own law practices, versus allowing an actual human being, such as a parent or child to have a nominal interest, capped, to provide some assistance to their child or parent who is an attorney, with the expectation of a small benefit, which would not suffer from the same or similar perils that entity ownership and big money will wreak upon the profession. All persons with any interest in a law practice should be subject to the exact same Character and Fitness investigation and requirements that lawyers are subject to. As an aside, I wonder how the cost of professional liability insurance for lawyers might change if non-lawyers are permitted to have an ownership interest in law firms. I can't it becoming less expensive. Please do not let this Petition pass.
Robert Greer
New Member
Posts:2 New Member

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09 Mar 2020 11:23 AM
Word fail me in opposing this appalling proposed remedy to a too complex and too expensive court system. I am grateful for and unqualifiedly join in Judge Peter Swann’s Opposition Statement.

I write from the experience of having practiced in a small firm in a small town, a solo practitioner in rural Arizona, an associate in an insurance defense firm, in house litigation counsel for an insurer, a partner in a national aviation law practice, a partner in a small defense based litigation boutique and in a small but growing consumer focused personal injury practice. I have seen the economic pressures on a small practice, the corporate pressures on captive counsel, and the retain-the-client pressures from insurers, all the time keenly conscious of my primary obligations to my represented client.

We can find a parallel in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona which changed the legal climate about the time I left law school. Under First Amendment rubric it lifted prohibitions on lawyer advertising noting that the “ban in fact serves to perpetuate the market position of established attorneys.” It treated as anachronisms traditional personal knowledge and word of mouth referrals to counsel whose reputation merited it. It noted that “the middle 70% of our population is not being reached or served adequately by the legal profession."(Citation omitted) Among the reasons for this underutilization is fear of the cost, and an inability to locate a suitable lawyer. Advertising can help to solve this acknowledged problem.” 433 S.Ct 250, 376 (1977).

We have seen in forty years just how helpful advertising has been in addressing that. A few anecdotes illustrate. As a defense lawyer, I got better settlements for the benefit of insurers when plaintiff’s counsel is working for prominent advertisers. Whenever I have advertised for a paralegal, whether on the defense or plaintiff’s side of personal injury work, I am inundated by applications from folks who work for heavily advertising injury mills who cannot wait to get out. They punch time cards, have to maintain a certain volume of cases, have case closing deadlines, and are paid below market. They have little time for personal attention to clients. On the plaintiff’s side, I am often approached by clients who have been rejected by advertising firms who deem their cases too hard or too time consuming or which might require litigation. They charge the same percentage for low hanging fruit as any other firm.

My point is that experience tells us that the well-intentioned proposed changes to the business of practicing law will likely lead to high volume, mediocre representation by the most cost effective means, with profit a greater influence upon the practitioner than client needs.

Arizona’s adoption of disclosure rules in civil litigation and juror questions to witnesses were innovative and actually were positive and helpful changes. But innovation just to be the first is not always the best motivation.

There are few drawbacks to letting other jurisdictions run the experiments and produce the data and fine tune the rules based upon results before giving the proposal consideration.

Robert L. Greer
State Bar No. 005372
1423 S. Higley Road, No 113
Mesa, AZ 85296
rlgreer@rigglaw.com
Tel: 480-539-9400
Wayne Carroll
New Member
Posts:2 New Member

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09 Mar 2020 02:49 PM
39506 N Daisy Mountain Drive
Ste 122-501
Phoenix, AZ 85086
(480) 733-6800
mailto:wayne@inspiredideasolutions.com

Thank you to everyone for engaging in this discussion. I doubt my voice will mean much as hundreds of attorneys are writing comments to oppose this including many with much more clout, experience and prestige than I have.

I appreciate your views. I am sure there will be some bad actors, as there are now. I am amazed that at large firms, many of the attorneys who are running the firm are still expected bill hours and work on cases. A good business person is focused on solving problems in the business, not on working in the business. Yes a business is set up to make a profit, and yes I want to make a profit. I am not of the opinion that making a profit is bad, or that focusing attention on making a profit is bad. More profit gives you more power and freedom. CPAs have a very strong part of their ethics code that focus on the independence of their judgement. The proposal brings in some of that language in the legal profession. It may be helpful to set a requirement so that non-attorneys cannot own more than 49%of the business,  (in most states CPAs have this limitation) but that is an arbitrary number when you look at a very large firm. In a large business a 10% owner may be able to control much of the business.
Perhaps the proposed regulations are not the solution, but I struggle with how to attract and retain someone to help me with sales and management, and usually a growing business will bring in partners at an early stage. There is no change to the rule that an attorney cannot do anything through another person that they are not allowed to do. Managers and sales people will be required to follow procedures that keep them within the ethics rules.  A well run law firm will have these procedures in place, whether or not it is an attorney doing the managing and selling. A poorly run firm will not have procedures, and is more likely to rely on state regulation to keep their employee attorneys ethical, than their own procedures. While the proposed rules open some opportunities, they are not without requirements, and I believe that it can encourage all law firm to be better by establishing procedures.
I am also concerned that as the sole owner of a law firm, if I were to die unexpectedly, my wife would be required to immediately sell the business we have both worked for years at building. She has learned the business skills and knows how to hire and run the business, but she is not allowed to unless I am alive. She is in effect a 50% owner of the business, but she is not recognized as an owner by the State Bar, and would not be allowed to hire attorneys and remain an owner if I died.
The rule change can also allow attorneys to sell their business easier, as they are not limited to only selling to other attorneys.  E-myth, a well known business book says that the only reason to start a business is to sell it. I understand that most attorneys do not think of their firm as a business, but I believe that creates many problems of its own, and I want to help with a solution to that problem.

Wayne Carroll
Licensed Arizona Attorney
Justin L. Wyatt
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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10 Mar 2020 10:44 AM
Justin L. Wyatt
Wyatt Injury Law, PLLC
5333 N. 7th Street, Ste A-210
Phoenix, AZ 85014
(602)354-7346
SBA# 032215

I would like to add my voice and opinions to the long list of those opposed to the petition and proposed rule change to allow non-lawyer ownership of law firms.

While this petition facially appears to be a novel mechanism of "reducing the barriers to legal services," and asserts to be an altruistic method of opening legal doors to those less fortunate, it is easy to sense that the true underlying motives are actually far more based on economics for certain parties, and are indeed more sinister. The significant reality and actual consequences of such a change cannot be overstated. I am left scratching my head as I attempt to reconcile the asserted goal with this proposed rule change, and am left convinced that this is not the proper mechanism to further the goal of providing quality legal services to underprivileged. This proposed change simply will not do what it is claimed to do, but will undoubtedly have other significant negative results. I have yet to see or read anything that actually indicates such a drastic rule change would actually serve the goal of reducing barriers to legal services. There appears to be no evidence of such whatsoever.

The barrier to competent legal representation is indeed real, and can certainly be challenging, but this barrier also serves to protect the quality of the product; indeed, what good is legal representation if it is not good?

As our industry currently exists, we are free to operate our practices and can earn a profit, but this is done working under the constraints of certain ethical rules, which indeed provide guidance and boundaries, and dictate holding obligations to clients in the highest regard. If those constraints are removed, I shudder to think of that the legal field will quickly devolve into, where law firms are controlled not by what is “best” for the client, but what is best for the shareholder. Even those firms and attorneys who wish to hold strong and put their own client interests ahead of their own will eventually be pushed out by bargain law firms who will do the work for significantly cheaper, but ultimately at the expense of the client. This cannot be allowed. The integrity of our industry, and the ideology of ethical legal representation is at stake.

It speaks volumes that there are no other states or jurisdictions currently that allow non-lawyers to have ownership/control over law firms. The reasoning is simple; because it’s a terrible idea, and as stated repeatedly by many before me, mixed ownership or mixed loyalties has one result; the product suffers, and the client loses. This flies in the face of the altruistic theory of “reducing the barriers to legal services.” Instead, it allows corporate abuse of those who don’t know better, can’t afford better, and oversight is lost.

Lastly, if this door is opened, I fear that it cannot be contained. Sharks will smell blood in the water, opportunity to make profit with low barrier to entry, and this industry will be exploited. This is bad for the public and bad for the profession. The ethical rules, as currently existing, should be respected, protected, and upheld, and change considered only after serious investigation, deep discussion, and thorough evaluation of the eventual impact. I fear that this proposed change is being pushed through extremely quickly, without the proper due diligence and oversight, and if allowed, the results would be catastrophic.
Aditya Dynar
New Member
Posts:3 New Member

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10 Mar 2020 12:25 PM
R-20-0034 Comment in Support

I support the rule-change petition without hesitation.

I am an attorney licensed in Arizona.

I also currently serve as a Governor-appointed Board Member of the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners and the Arizona State Board of Psychologist Examiners.

The views expressed in this comment are my own and not those of my employer, or of the state licensing boards on which I currently serve.

I support the rule-change petition for the following reasons:

Many comments in opposition focus, not on the actual words of the proposed changes, but rather on what the Petition says about those proposals. Such a shift in focus may not be the best way to evaluate the rule-change petition. The first and foremost place to look for what the Petition proposes is to look at the plain words in the markup version of the proposed changes.

There are at least four prominent features of the proposed changes that should address the vast majority of the concerns expressed by those opposed to the proposal.

1) The new ABS entities are required to “emplo[y] at least one person who is an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Arizona under Rule 32 who supervises the practice of law under ER 5.3[.]” Proposed Rule 31.1(b)(1).

2) The “State Bar of Arizona, under the Court’s supervision” will have the authority to “assist the Court with the regulation and discipline of alternative business structures (ABS) and limited license legal practitioners (LLLP)[.]” Proposed Amendment to Rule 32(a)(2)(D).

3) Both ABS and LLLP entities “are subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of this court[.]” Proposed Rules 46(b), 46(c).

4) The Petition proposes that the same high ethical standards contained in the Ethics Rules be applied to ABS and LLLP entities. See Proposed Amendments to ERs 1.0 through 5.7. In other words, employees or personnel who were not previously subject to the lawyer’s Ethics Rules will now be held to that high standard. See, e.g., Proposed Amendments to ERs 1.6, 1.8, 1.10, 5.1, 5.3 & Comments thereto.

Traditional law practices are facing two recurring challenges, and this proposal will help firms effectively address them. Accounting or business development on the one hand, and emerging data privacy and technology needs on the other are two challenges that can be easily addressed by having an ABS or LLLP structure. Firms that are currently prevented from employing non-lawyer Chief Operating Officers (COOs) or Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) will be able to have such dedicated C-suite employees manage the business development and data privacy aspects of the firm. In turn, this will enable the lawyers in the firm to dedicate more distraction-free time to providing legal services to their clients. Allowing for such a welcome change in the business structure of a firm will enhance the quality of legal services provided in Arizona.

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Aditya Dynar
Aditya Dynar
AZ Bar No. 031583
2300 W. San Angelo St. #1112
Gilbert, AZ 85233
(480) 818-5499
Aditya.Dynar@gmail.com

James B Penny
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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11 Mar 2020 10:43 AM
James B. Penny
Law Office of James B. Penny, LLC
333 N. Wilmot Road, Suite 340
Tucson, AZ 85711
520.618.5386
Bar No. 015236

I am currently the Chair of the Client Protection Fund Board of Trustees and a past member of the State Bar’s Board of Governors. Access to justice is an important issue, but not more so than protecting the public with respect to the provision of legal services. I oppose the proposed amendment to ER 5.4, because it sacrifices protection in favor of theoretical access and, therefore, does not serve the public’s interest.

One of the requirements to become a licensed attorney is passing a character and fitness review. Another is successfully establishing a working knowledge of the ethical rules. The ethical rules hold lawyers to a minimum standard. Lawyers who violate those rules, risk more than economic sanction; they put their right to practice law on the line.

Under the current rule, since every owner and decision maker of a law practice is a lawyer, the ethical rules hold them personally and directly responsible for ensuring that the actions of the entity are consistent with the ethical rules. Those lawyers possess both the organizational power and the motivation to do so. Protecting the public, therefore, can best be served by holding those at the top accountable for the actions of those throughout the organization.

The proposed amendment would allow non-lawyers to own and operate businesses that engage in the practice of law. Those owners would not be subject to character and fitness review and would have no duty to be accountable under the ethical rules. Instead, the Task Force significantly dilutes the public’s protection by proposing that any such businesses merely designate an attorney who would be responsible for establishing policies and procedures. As a result, any accountability would fall down the organizational chart to an employee, without the same authority and control of the non-lawyer owners. The owners, who are the true decision makers and who gain the most financially from unethical decisions, would have no personal and direct exposure or accountability.

The Task Force recommends nothing to regulate those firms owned by nonlawyers. Instead, it recommends that the Supreme Court convene a group in the future to “explore entity regulation” for such firms. In kicking this can down the road, the proposed amendment to ER 5.4 leaves those entitles unregulated and, therefore, the public unprotected.

In my years with the Client Protection Fund, I have seen the consequences to the public of unethical conduct and how critically important it is to hold lawyers personally and directly accountable for the provision of legal services. I do not believe that the public is best served by the proposed amendment to ER 5.4, and respectfully request that the Court reject it.
George Riemer
New Member
Posts:3 New Member

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11 Mar 2020 02:50 PM
It should be noted that there are two other petitions pending that relate to Petition R-20-0034. They can be found under Code of Judicial Administration on the Supreme Court website. The initial comment period is March 30, 2020.

ACJA 7-209 -Alternative Business Structures

ACJA 7-210 - Limited License Legal Practitioner

George A. Riemer
Arizona Bar Member No. 017034
grapho@outlook.com
623-238-5039
Eric
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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13 Mar 2020 11:30 AM
I have practiced in Arizona for 30 years and am a certified specialist in workers' compensation with the State Bar of Arizona. I strongly oppose the Petition on numerous grounds. First, workers' compensation is an area of law in which most clients have lower income and are completely reliant on counsel’s competency to manage their cases. These cases often determine their lifetime benefits. Workers’ compensation is an area of law that is paved with administrative rules, statutes and case law that will trip up even the most capable lawyers that do not regularly practice in this area. In such an arena, indigent and unsophisticated injured workers will have no idea that the person practicing with a limited license has little to know idea what they are doing. The poor injured worker will only be distracted by the “bargain” they think they are getting.

Additionally, allowing non-lawyers to own and manage law practices will create enormous pressure for young lawyers to work as instructed by the “boss” who is not trained nor held to the same ethical standards as the young lawyer. The almighty dollar will rule the day and lawyers will no longer be free to follow their desire to improve society which originally motivated them to attend law school.

Eric Awerkamp
1930 S Alma School Rd Ste A115
Mesa, AZ 85210
Phone: (480) 777-5595
David Shtogren
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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13 Mar 2020 03:48 PM
David J. Shtogren, Esq.
9242 W. Union Hills Dr., Ste. 102
Peoria, AZ 85382
623-223-0686 (Tele) / 602-926-0915 (Fax)
david@djsaccidentlaw.com
www.djsaccidentlaw.com



I am vehemently opposed to the Petition as it would eliminate ER 5.4 and ER 5.7 and amend ERs 1.0 through 5.3, to permit non-lawyers to own and manage law firms.

It would be calamitous to allow non-lawyers to own or invest in law firms. ER 5.4 protects the public by maintaining the legal professionalism and allowing lawyers to preserve the independence of non-lawyer judgment, which it has done for many a year. By allowing non-lawyer ownership in firms, you would be eroding the protection of the public encompassed in ER 5.4. I do not see how eliminating ER 5.4 would benefit the public. How would it bring legal services to underserved legal areas or reduce legal costs when the investors are driven by profits and return on investment? For-profit corporations look at the bottom line before all other things, so for-profit corporations will not offer pro-bono or low-cost legal services to the general public – they will operate on a "mill" basis keeping costs as low as possible and perhaps to the detriment of the client. By allowing non-lawyers to invest or own law firms there would be a negative end result. It would result in there being only a few national law firms as sole practitioners, small and even larger law firms could not compete with money behind large commercial operations. Thus, in my mind, eliminating ER. 5.4 would have a hugely negative impact on access to justice.

I am opposed to the proposed creation of the Limited License Legal Practitioner (LLLP) and Alternative Business Structure (ABS) as I am not convinced either is needed to fill any gap in legal services. The Petition claims that "[t]he purpose of creating this new tier of licensed legal service provider is to fill a gap that exists between medium- and low-income individuals needing legal services and the cost of securing those services from the traditional legal market." What exactly would LLLPs or an ABS be able to do, and what access to justice gap is eliminated with the creation of LLLPs or an ABS? I do not believe the issue of creating LLLPs or ABSs has been thoroughly researched about the impact on the general public of receiving legal advice from a non-lawyer. I can, however, foresee that such creation will lead to a negative effect on the general legal consumer as you have a person providing legal advice without having the benefit of law school or the same ethical considerations as a licensed attorney. What would stop a disbarred lawyer from becoming an LLLP or starting an ABS and basically practicing law again?

While I am all for bringing legal services to underserved areas and reducing legal costs, this Petition is not how to accomplish this task.
ILerma
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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13 Mar 2020 04:52 PM

Ilya E. Lerma
SBA 019573
ilya@ilyalaw.com
physical address: GATE6 Offices 16624 N. 90th Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85624
mailing address: 610 E. Bell Rd., Ste. 2-484 Phoenix, AZ 85022
602.899.3035

I join in the overwhelming chorus of practitioners opposing the Petition and the elimination of ER 5.4. My colleagues and Judge Swan have beautifully articulately concerns over what seems to be a well-intentioned but strongly misguided effort at creating access to legal services.

In the application of law, we are frequently called upon to consider lesser-intrusive measures as alternatives and it appears that better and perhaps more strongly contemplated alternatives to availing poor an indigent clients may not have been fully explored. Obviously, the public is served with access to justice, but there seems to be little rationale as to how opening the door to non-lawyer owned firms ensures that this occurs. The comments of Mr. Trachtenberg addresses the long-term view of clients harmed and overall financial impact and risks to the legal system to which I wholeheartedly agree.

The great privilege of practicing law is counter-weighted with our ethical duties guiding and conforming behavior in the representation of clients. After 20 years of practicing law, it is infrequent that a question of ethics is not presented on every single file. For example, diligence and competence, the most fundamental of obligations can be compromised by matters confronting any professional such as illness. If serious or otherwise lengthy, the professional must weigh their ability to competently and diligently continue representation. What non-lawyer must faithfully examine and re-examine or otherwise face discipline or other serious professional consequences? These ethical duties are the very essence that support the confidence people can have in the legal system. To undermine these most fundamental principles so that more people can have access, begs the question, "Access to what?" What is gained when people have access to a system that does not meets its most basic promises of diligent and competent representation? Or perhaps just as bad, a system which will allow non-lawyers an entirely different standard of conduct as compared to their professional counterparts. Of course, this is only one concern among the myriad raised and addressed in other comments.

The Petition, and more specifically, elimination of the ethical rule does creates far more problems than it seeks to resolve.It is with my strongest conviction that I urge rejection of the Petition.
Sincerely,
Ilya Elena Lerma
Christopher Zachar
New Member
Posts:2 New Member

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16 Mar 2020 10:49 AM
I have read R-20-0034, the proposal to eliminate ER 5.4. I must voice a strong objection to this proposal.

Several years ago, the restrictions were eased for reciprocity for out of state lawyers to become licensed in Arizona, creating an unfavorable multitude of lawyers not qualified to represent injured victims in Arizona. As an attorney who took and passed the rigorous Arizona bar exam and has practiced for 28 years representing injured victims in Arizona, I have witnessed the devastating outcome it has had for Arizona injury victims. There has been an influx of out-of-state firms marketing their services in the Phoenix market, and while this is likely profitable for those firms, it is the people of Arizona that pay the cost of being represented by attorneys who are not familiar with the rules, laws and practices of this state, and only care about making a quick fee.

This proposal, if adopted, will open the floodgates to deep pocket (non-lawyer) investors to take advantage of and merely “profitize” what Arizona offers, at the expense of Arizona residents. With such motives made legal in Arizona, I am concerned as to the amount of profiteers it would bring and the corruption and unethical tactics that will come with a money-earning opportunity. Worse yet, a probable consequence is the poor outcomes from a shallow representation of our community’s injury victims.

I am not as learned on areas of law other than personal injury, but there does not appear to be a shortage of quality professionals in any area of Arizona law. Likewise, there does not seem to be any dearth in a consumer’s ability to find both quality and affordable legal services and representation in Arizona. Eliminating ER 5.4 may bring more “services” to Arizona consumers, but it will invariably hurt unwitting consumers and lower the overall quality of legal services that these consumers currently receive.

I join in the comments and objections stated by Geoff Trachtenberg, Jacqueline Rambo, Dianne Post, Frank Verderame, Jason Kelly, Robert Bohm, Brian Snyder, Emily Kile, and Eric Post, who have all eloquently pointed out the problems posed by this proposed rule change, and cited examples of the problems we face now as a result of legal document preparers and other unlicensed, unqualified individuals who already attempt to practice law in Arizona. The outcome these individuals usually achieve for their clients is failure or worse, and the proposed rule change will only lead to more of the same.

The access-to-justice gap must be closed through other means. Allowing unlicensed individuals to own law firms will not achieve the desired result. I urge the Committee to reject this proposal, for the good of Arizona’s residents and for the good of the established and hardworking Arizona attorneys that currently serve their needs.

Christopher J. Zachar, Esq.
Zachar Law Firm, P.C.
714 E Rose Ln, Phoenix, AZ 85014
Phone: (602) 494-4800
Michael York
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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16 Mar 2020 05:52 PM
Michael York
2175 N Alma School Rd Ste B107
Chandler, AZ 85224
Phone: (480) 222-2020

The proposed rule change attempts to achieve "Access to Justice" when actually, at best, it may only marginally increase "Access to the System." Even assuming the proposed Rule change accomplishes greater access to our Courts (which there is no evidence to suggest it will) what then? Are we to assume that these people will actually achieve "Justice" simply because they have entered the door? For all of the reasons stated by my colleagues in the comments above, the more likely result of this measure will be incompetent representation, lack of accountability, and profit motive over real "Justice." I join those opposing this measure.
Crispin Passmore
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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17 Mar 2020 05:36 AM
My name is Crispin Passmore and I am from England & Wales. I am an experienced regulator and have been at the core of the re-regulation of the legal services profession/market here for over 15 years. I now run a consultancy business and work with legal regulators around the world, as well as regulators in other professions. I helped establish the Legal Services Board that drive initial reform in the UK, and was Executive Director at the SRA, responsible for reforming the regulation of a £30bn market of solicitors and law firms. I have also been an Executive Director in our legal aid scheme - worth £2.4bn per annum - and run a non-profit focused on access to justice. I support a number of US States that are reforming regulation - and want to stress that I do this without charge so as to support global access to justice.

The access to justice crisis in the US is pretty much identical to other advanced economises but is intensified by the structure of your legal market. You do not need me to tell you about the evidence in your own country but I would stress that increasingly the picture we are building is that small business face almost identical access to justice challenges as disadvantaged individuals. Reform is needed to support the growth of our economies as well as to tackle A2J.

In the UK I invented and designed the world’s first regulatory sandbox for the legal market:SRA: innovate. It had a significant impact (and continues to do so) even in the hugely more liberalised profession that we operate within in E&W. Our economises are based upon growing supply to increase innovation and productivity and only a significant liberalisation combined with targeted and effective modern regulation can help tackle that.

I want to support the work that has led to the petitions to amend your rules. Non lawyer ownership amends economic rules and ethic rules remain in amended: obligations to act in the clients best interests, support the rule of law and proper administration of justice apply to all.

To argue, as many lawyers have done, that allowing non lawyer ownership risks unethical impact on law firms concerns me for two reasons. First it suggest that lawyers ethics is so weak that they can be led astray by almost anyone. Second is suggests that lawyers ethics are higher than other professions and business people: there is simply no evidence to support that in any economy or society. We regulate lawyers with ethics codes because of the risk they do not act ethically - not because they are so ethical but because they are doing work where temptations to act unethically are significant and impacts for that unacceptable. The history of large law firms going bankrupt and lawyers running off with client money should see off any argument about ethical superiority. It would be remarkable that we had grown our legal professions exponentially in recent decades if we could only choose people with ethical superiority.

I would also like to stress that the decision before you is not whether alternative providers enter the legal market. We are too late to that particular party: 25 million US adults have an account with Rocket Lawyer and Axiom is now over 20 years old. The choice is simply if we embrace and properly regulate these businesses and set them free to employ and work with lawyers properly so that they can increase the supply of lawyers to a disastrously underserved market. I have blogged on this and much more on my website. The history of our economies leads to a simple choice: we can choose change or irrelevance.

I have made a detailed submission to California to set out some learnings from the UK and attach a copy of that to support your consideration of international evidence. I would be delighted to talk further about that experience and help you drive forward the change that Arizona can benefit from, putting you ahead of other US States and getting first mover advantage. I do not propose to comment on specific rule changes - your experts within the Courts are best placed to get the drafting correct, but I want to be clear in my support for the policy direction.

Best wishes at this tough time: good legal services for the poor are going to be ever more important as we handle economic disruptions across the world. I am sure that Arizona can be at the heart of improving opportunities for all. I commend the petitions to you.

Crispin

Crispin Passmore
Passmore Consulting Ltd
+(44) (0) 7834 856 564
Crispin.Passmore@passmoreconsulting.co.uk
Cal Raup
New Member
Posts:1 New Member

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19 Mar 2020 02:28 PM
I oppose the proposed changes and any change that dilutes the high professional standards we all have cherished for our entire careers. Anyone coming from the business world to the legal profession must be required to meet the high ethical standards to which we all are held. That requires a legal education, licensing and regulation. This proposal does not meet those requirements. I see lawyers I highly respect appear to be in unison in their opposition to this proposal.

I come from a long defense background; I now practice on the plaintiff's side. Looking at the proposal from both perspectives, I find no merit whatsoever in making these changes.

Calvin L. Raup Bar #004424
531 E. Thomas Rd. Suite 104
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Daniel Esparza
New Member
Posts:2 New Member

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19 Mar 2020 05:05 PM
From economic, practical, and social-justice viewpoints, these proposed changes are all positive and will likely result in greater rule of law for all who come in contact with the Arizona legal system. I have represented a number of clients who could not find another lawyer willing to represent them due to the cost barrier. Had I not helped them at a significant discount or pro bono, they would not have received the justice guaranteed to them by the law we hold so dear. Unsophisticated client (including non-English speakers) will frequently be forced to deal with relatively simple areas of the law but which they are not equipped to handle pro per for one reason or another. They do not need a Thurgood Marshall, they just need a competent hand, which this change will make available. And might I add, there will always be a need for fully trained lawyers just as there will always be a need for cardiologists --- they just do not need to be your primary care physicians.

A last point: allowing nonlawyers to work more closely with lawyers will benefit many legal areas. Some more than others. As long as the right to control representation is not compromised, this will only benefit the client.

Daniel Esparza, JD, MBA
Skymark Advisors Law Group, LLC
10225 W THUNDERBIRD BLVD STE A
Sun City, Arizona, 85351-6111
623-377-9577
http://law.skymarkadvisors.com
Daniel Esparza
New Member
Posts:2 New Member

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19 Mar 2020 08:58 PM
The use of LLLPs has great potential to reduce the unauthorized practice of law. I find that many people try to get around using lawyers due to cost. Having access to a trained provider of legal services, under the supervision of an attorney, will do much to combat this tendency. Similarly, allowing nonlawyers to work with lawyers, within a clear regulatory framework, will help keep nonlawyers from falling into the temptation to wade into the practice of law. I have dealt with both circumstances, and that is why I support these proposals.

Daniel Esparza, Esq.
Skymark Advisors Law Group, LLC
10225 W THUNDERBIRD BLVD STE A
Sun City, Arizona, 85351-6111
623-377-9577
http://law.skymarkadvisors.com
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