City Bar Stand on Non-Lawyer Legal Assistance
Regarding "Nassau Bar Criticizes Enlisting Non-Lawyers to Represent Poor" (NYLJ, Sept. 30), it's true that the New York City Bar has expressed concerns about nonlawyer practitioners (including regarding competence, regulation and oversight). However, in issuing a report this past June recommending a role for nonlawyer practitioners, we found these concerns to be more than counterbalanced by the services these "Courtroom Aides" and "Legal Technicians" would provide.
When more than 2.3 million low-income New Yorkers are left to navigate the civil justice system on their own; with The Legal Aid Society able to respond to only one out of nine requests for legal assistance due to lack of resources; and with requests for foreclosure assistance up 800 percent since the onset of the Great Recession, we must find ways to reduce this "justice gap" in which those who have representation fare far better than those forced by circumstance to go it alone.
Plus, as we note in our report, absent a system for managing nonlawyer practice, less desirable services inevitably arise to meet the unmet need. It's preferable to bring that activity out of the shadows and create a pool of practitioners who can better perform these services under a regulatory scheme.
Carey R. Dunne
The author is president of the New York City Bar.