By Maren Hendricks
For BYU Law’s first Wednesday Law Forum of the semester, we welcomed John R. Lund, a prominent trial lawyer and Of Counsel at Parsons Behle & Latimer in Salt Lake City. Lund chairs the Office of Legal Services Innovation, a joint task-force of the Utah Supreme Court and the Utah Bar that is recommending significant changes to the regulation of legal services in order to improve access to justice in Utah. Attendees learned about Utah’s groundbreaking “Regulatory Sandbox,” which provides a means for lawyers and other professionals to deliver nontraditional legal services under the supervision of the Utah Supreme Court. Since its launch in 2020, numerous Sandbox businesses and collaborations are providing a wide range of much-needed legal services to Utahns for whom legal assistance would otherwise be out of reach. The Sandbox utilizes a data-driven, risk-oriented approach that provides a mechanism for innovative business models to be tested and then analyzed to ensure consumer protection and gauge efficacy and value.
Despite trepidation from some in the legal community concerning the prospect of nonlawyers providing legal services, with harm to consumers cited as one of the biggest risks, data from the Sandbox suggests that those fears are unfounded—and that, in fact, the opposite is true. Lund championed the Sandbox’s successes in mitigating what he labeled a “crisis of democracy” for the vast majority of Utahns who cannot afford legal assistance with problems such as evictions, custody, divorce, domestic violence, and debt. Lund lauds Utah’s trailblazing efforts as essential to addressing the dire access-to-justice crisis in the United States.