– Below are ethicalEsq-f/k/a postings and annotated web resources on this topic. Find our full list of annotated ethics links by clicking the Client Rights & Legal Ethics link on the Navigation Bar.
- Posting 01/30/04 SelfHelpSupport.org Site Officially Launched
- Posting 6/12/03 UnCommonly Good Advice on Contingency Fees
- Posting 6/7/03 FTC Opposes Inflated Fees Based on Face Value of Coupons
- Posting 5/30/03 P/I Lawyers v. Common Good
ORGANIZATIONS & AGENCIES working for the legal consumer
HALT – An Organization of Americans for Legal Reform. Founded in 1978, HALT is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public interest group of more than 50,000 members, and proudly states that it is “the nation’s largest and oldest legal reform organization. Dedicated to the principle that all Americans should be able to handle their legal affairs simply, affordably and equitably, HALT’s Reform Projects challenge the legal establishment to improve access and reduce costs in our civil justice system at both the state and federal levels, and to improve client protection and lawyer discipline.
The Legal Reformer: HALT’s Membership Newsletter This publication is available for free online, and is mailed to all HALT members. It includes articles on HALT projects and publications, as well as a roundup of legal reform news from across the nation.
Nolo.com Democracy Corner: [see update at the end of this paragraph] With the rally cry of “Let’s Fix America’s Dysfunctional Legal System,” the self-help-law publisher Nolo.com presents its wish list of changes to the legal system and legal ethics. See the Nolo Contends webpage, which describes the Nolo philosophy of legal reform: Law for All, Remove Barriers to Access, Stimulate Reform of Law. Topics covered in essays on the site include expanding small claims court jurisdiction, combating excessive contingency fees, preventing the use of rules against the Unauthorized Practice of Law to ban self-help books and software and the use of nonlawyer advisors, ending probate laws.
update: Editor’s Note (August 2010): Since I compiled this list in May 2003, Nolo.com has taken much of the bite out of its website. Democracy Corner, Nolo Contends, the Nolo Lawyer Joke Emporium, and its shark-lawyer merchandise and computer wallpaper are gone from the site. Nonetheless, its Nolo Legal Encyclopedia has useful free information and FAQs, on many substantive subjects of interest to consumers or small businesses, as well as materials of interest to consumers as clients or potential clients of lawyers, or who otherwise have a legal problem and are curious about their options and rights [scroll down to the section on Being Well-Informed Legal Consumers on the main CLIENT RIGHTS & LEGAL ETHICS page for links to some of Nolo’s materials.].
Federal Trade Commission This is one government agency that understands the importance of information and competition to consumer welfare — and refuses to let professions get off the hook with their pious paternal instincts and dubious self-regulation.
American Antitrust Institute This nonprofit thinktank has produced a Guide to Antitrust Resources on the Web that includes a major section on Lawyers and Legal Services [scroll down the page], including sections on Applying the Antitrust Laws to the Legal Profession, Defining the Practice of Law, Protecting Clients through Competition, Information and Fair Ethical Rules, and Multi-Disciplinary Practice (MDP).
Overlawyered.com: Legal Ethics in Crisis Edited by Walter Olson, Overlawyered.com covers many aspects of the legal profession’s effects on society, politics, and clients, with an emphasis on the problem of excessive litigation. Overlawyer’s ethics page includes sections on excessive fees, faulty disciplinary systems, the failure to fully inform clients, and more, with links to relevant articles, sites and reports.
Legal Reform Now!: This website has a lot of information and opinion on what ails the American legal system (including reprints from other sources), plus many suggestions on how to make things better.