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39 William Mitchell Law Review 80 (2012)


While the profession focuses on ways to meet the critical legal needs of low-income citizens, the needs of the middle group are largely left for the market to fill. The painful fact is that the market has failed to distribute lawyer services to a majority of Americans with legal needs. Ironically, the legal needs of middle-income Americans have risen with the economic crisis even as unemployment among new lawyers has increased. A large supply of trained lawyers without work theoretically should translate into lower costs and more legal needs being met. Yet the cost of legal services has continued to rise. Great unmet need coupled with high cost of services and numerous underemployed new lawyers are allied problems that the profession can ill afford to avoid. The challenge is to use this tempest to rethink the profession’s approach to solving legal problems, lowering the cost of service, and expanding the distribution of justice.

This article assumes that it is a legitimate goal of the profession to increase access to civil justice facilitated by lawyers - as contrasted with access facilitated by self or paralegals or document assemblers - and that the profession must chart alternatives beyond pro bono, legal aid and pro se justice for clients. That project is the focus of this article.