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NCJ Number: 47627 Find in a Library
Title: STATE OF SIEGE - GROUP LEGAL SERVICES FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS (FROM VERDICTS ON LAWYERS, 1976, BY RALPH NADER AND MARK GREEN - SEE NCJ-47620)
Author(s): J LORENZ
Date Published: 1976
Page Count: 14
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: OBSTACLES TO FINDING COMPETENT AND AFFORDABLE LAWYERS HAVE DISCOURAGED THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE BY THE MIDDLE CLASS. CITIZEN LEGAL ADVOCACY GROUPS AND GROUP LEGAL SERVICES PROGRAMS ARE POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS.
Abstract: 'GROUP LEGAL SERVICES' USUALLY REFERS TO PROGRAMS BY WHICH ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDE LEGAL ASSISTANCE AS A BENEFIT OF MEMBERSHIP. SUCH PROGRAMS MAY VARY FROM LEGAL REPRESENTATION ON A FEE-FOR-SERVICES BASIS TO PREPAYMENT LEGAL INSURANCE-TYPE PLANS. WHATEVER THE FORM GROUP LEGAL SERVICES CAN RESULT IN SUBSTANTIAL REDUCTION OF LEGAL FEES FOR THE CONSUMER. ALTHOUGH GROUP LEGAL SERVICES COULD ALSO BENEFIT THE LEGAL PROFESSION BY DEVELOPING THE MIDDLE INCOME CLIENT PREVIOUSLY PRICED OUT OF THE MARKET, MOST STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONS INITIALLY SOUGHT TO PROHIBIT SUCH PROGRAMS. STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONS ATTEMPTED TO RESTRAIN SUCH PROGRAMS, HOWEVER THE SUPREME COURT RULED THAT BAR ASSOCIATIONS COULD NOT FRUSTRATE ACESS TO LAWYERS BY THE GROUPS INVOLVED IN THE LITIGATIONS. IN 1970, THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION (ABA) APPROVED THE PRINCIPLE OF GROUP LEGAL SERVICES, BUT SEVERELY LIMITED THEM BY STATING THAT SUCH SERVICES MUST DIRECTLY RELATE TO THE PRIMARY PURPOSES OF THE ORGANIZATION. IN 1974, THE ABA APPROVED A SERIES OF ACTIONS TO PROMOTE BAR-SPONSORED OPEN PANEL GROUP LEGAL SERVICES PLANS (E.G.) THOSE PLANS WHICH ENROLL A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION OF THE LOCAL BAR AND WHOSE PARTICIPATING LAWYERS ARE REQUIRED TO CHARGE STANDARD FEES ACCORDING TO BAR'S FEE SCHEDULE). WHILE DISCOURAGING CLOSED PANEL PROGRAMS. THE ABA'S RULES IN EFFECT ATTEMPTED TO EXPLOIT A NEW MARKET AT HIGH RATES UNILATERALLY SET BY LAWYER TRADE ASSOCIATIONS. AS A RESULT OF THREATENED ANTITRUST LITIGATION, THE ABA EASED RESTRICTIONS IN 1975. THE REVISED ABA RULES HOWEVER STILL BARRED INSURANCE COMPANIES FROM RUNNING CLOSED PANEL PLANS AND PROHIBITED ADVERTISMENT OF THE LEGAL FEES TO BE CHARGED OR THE NAMES OF PARTICIPATING LAWYERS. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT FURTHER ACTION WILL BE REQUIRED BY CONSUMER ORGANIZATIONS AND UNIONS TO ENSURE THAT LOCAL BARS PRESENT NO OBSTACLES TO THE CREATION OF LEGAL INSURANCE PROGRAMS. POSSIBLE ACTIONS INCLUDE ANTITRUST LITIGATION, GROUP LEGAL SERVICES SURVEYS, AND INCREASED CITIZEN PARTICIPATION AND ADVOCACY. NOTES ARE PROVIDED. (JAP)
Index Term(s): American Bar Association (ABA); Antitrust offenses; Attorneys; Consumer protection; Legal aid services
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=47627

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