Another sign for lawyers everywhere that the world is changing. The chief judge of New York's top court, the New York Court of Appeals, delivered an address this week at NYU Law School on "The Judiciary as the Leader of the Access to Justice Revolution that says this:
[N]ot every new idea receives a universally warm welcome – - especially if we think more creatively about ways to solve the justice gap. And that’s exactly what we are doing when we venture into areas that seemed off limits in the past. One such area for the New York Judiciary is the work of non-lawyer advocates in our courtrooms to support unrepresented litigants. We know that there are many functions that only a lawyer is qualified to perform. Only lawyers have the education, training, examination standards, and ethical mandates that go hand in hand with full legal representation. But there are people without a law degree who nonetheless are more than capable of assisting unrepresented litigants. At a time when millions of litigants can neither afford to pay a lawyer nor are fortunate enough to have the services of a legal services provider, we need to look to others to step in. This is already done in the medical profession. There is no substitute for a medical degree, but that community has recognized for many years that people with health care needs can be served in some measure by practitioners with lesser qualifications – like midwives or home health care aides — providing specified services at lower rates.