I’ve learned a lot this past year as I traveled across the country meeting with state bar associations and legal industry leaders, but one thing stood out as a reoccurring theme: Many of us in the legal community are passionate about providing all Americans access to affordable legal services.
We are not okay with the fact that the United States of America, which prides itself as a leading proponent of liberty and justice around the globe, tied for 94th place out of 113 countries in terms of accessibility and affordability of civil justice in 2016. We rank below countries like Mexico, Turkey, Ukraine, Dominican Republic, Kazakhstan and Bolivia.
One thing many countries that rank in the top 10 for access to affordable civil justice, including Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, have in common? They are countries that support and promote legal insurance.
Legal insurance is an ideal solution that connects attorneys with people who need their services (and might not otherwise use them). People pay a small monthly premium for the insurance and then when they need legal assistance, the insurance company connects them with attorneys in their area and, for covered matters, pays the attorney fees. We champion attorneys as key players in bridging the justice gap – we aren’t trying to replace them. As lawyer and leading legal tech consultant Robert Ambrogi said, “One very clear strength of legal insurance is that it is a solution that involves lawyers. It enables consumers to get legal services from qualified lawyers at prices they are more likely to afford.”
Legal insurance providers are working with attorneys to improve:
- Awareness. The most commonly cited reason people don’t use an attorney is that they didn’t see a need for legal advice or an attorney wouldn’t make a difference. People need to be educated that many issues they encounter are legal matters that could benefit from an attorney’s guidance.
- Access. Legal insurance, as the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services put it, “provides an efficient mechanism for matching clients in need of services with lawyers.” We use technology to make legal services accessible where people want them — online, over the phone, on mobile devices and in person.
- Affordability. Cost is clearly a factor for people seeking legal remedies, and it prevents more people from resolving their issues faster and more successfully. We have found that people with legal insurance are more likely to use an attorney proactively because legal services are more affordable for them.
- Customer Service. Georgetown’s 2016 Report on the State of the Legal Market found that “clients are demanding more ‘value’ in return for their legal spend” and have high service expectations when they work with an attorney. Legal insurance can help attorneys provide this higher level of service without adding more work to their already-overflowing plates.
Interested in learning more about how legal insurance can partner with you and other legal industry leaders in your state? Download ARAG’s new white paper, The Future of Legal Is Now: How Legal Insurance Is a Solution to the Access to Justice Problem in America.
About the Author
Nicolle Schippers is the Associate General Counsel and Legal Industry Advocate at ARAG. Nicolle received her Bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Iowa State University, and attended Drake University Law School in Des Moines where she received her Juris Doctorate degree. Nicolle is a published author whose work has been featured in legal publications such as the ACC Docket and Law Practice Today.
 Ambrogi, Robert. “Exclusive: New Nationwide Legal Insurance Plan Aims to Reduce the Justice Gap.” 7 Apr. 2016. http://www.lawsitesblog.com/2016/04/exclusive-new-nationwide-legal-insurance-plan-aims-reduce-justice-gap.html.
 Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States.” Commission on the Future of Legal Services: American Bar Association, 2016.
 ”2016 Report on the State of the Legal Market.” Georgetown Law Center for the Study of the Legal Profession, 2016.
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