context matters

‘Non-Lawyer Legal Help’ Are No Longer Banned Words in New York

Welcome back to the Big Law Business column on the changing legal marketplace written by me, Roy Strom. Today, we look at a case that pits free speech against the provision of legal advice by people who are not lawyers. Sign up to receive this column in your inbox on Thursday mornings. Programming Note: Big Law Business will be off next week for Memorial Day.

The late comedian George Carlin famously said there are seven words you can’t say on TV.

For non-lawyers, there have been far more than seven words they can’t say—if they drift anywhere close to practicing law. Those banned words include, “Check that box.”

But now that’s changing.

A federal judge in Manhattan this week ruled a non-profit can train regular people to provide free help for New Yorkers filling out responses to debt collection lawsuits.

The order lets Upsolve Inc.’s “justice advocates” tell debt collection defendants what boxes to check on a one-page response to the lawsuits.

The ruling could create a roadmap for other programs to provide less-expensive legal advice in other types of cases. The increasingly high cost of hiring a lawyer is driving similar efforts in other states.

Everyone involved in

Read the rest