May 19, 2013

Is the legal equivalent of a nurse practitioner (a "legal practitioner") the future of legal services in the U.S.?

Nurse practitioners and physician's assistants are increasingly becoming the providers of choice for routine medical care.  This is largely a function of labor supply and cost pressures (from insurers, other third-party payors, and the uninsured).  Take the following article from March 2013 in the Raleigh News and Observer: "Increasingly, our medical care is entrusted to nurse practitioners"  (Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/03/26/2781629/increasingly-our-medical-care.html).  Could a similar article be written in 2023 regarding "legal practitioners"?  Many are wondering. 

Some, including some lawyers, are actively advocating for a professional legal practitioner role below the level of licensed attorney.  In his blog, Simple Justice, New York attorney Scott H. Greenfield, has even argued that the supervision of an attorney is unnecessary: "The most important aspect of this new position is that it would entitle the practitioner to function independent of lawyers. While they could operate within the law firm structure, they would be trained and authorized to practice as a stand alone professional, to hang out a shingle of their own."

If a new tier of legal practitioner is indeed in the future, what should the role entail?  What safeguards will be necessary to protect the public?  What services currently provided by lawyers will become the purview of the legal practitioner?  Where and how will the practitioners be trained?  Who will make these decisions? 

Please share your thoughts on the subject with me here or elsewhere.  As a member of the NC Bar Association's Strategic Planning & Emerging Trends Committee, I am very interested to hear thoughts from various perspectives on all aspects of this issue. 

Credit: Allan Head of the NCBA for the NP/LP article analogy concept.

2 comments:

Abdul Bari Chanessra said...

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Anh Mai said...

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