Salt Lake City, UT—April, 2021 will mark the first year since the Utah Supreme Court’s passing of Utah’s legal regulatory “sandbox” reform, and it is already starting to reshape Utah’s legal landscape.
The Office of Legal Services Innovation provides a safe environment where nontraditional legal service providers can innovate. One of the first providers approved under the new office is Rocket Lawyer, which offers à la carte legal services at a competitive price.
“Rocket Lawyer has been instrumental in helping me navigate legal documents and other legal issues that come up,” said Jill Parkinson, an independent contractor who engaged Rocket Lawyer for a document review. “I sleep better at night knowing my contracts are sound.”
Another small business owner said being able to access legal help on demand is a great asset. “Knowing there is a team at Rocket Lawyer skilled in areas I’m not familiar with to help me with whatever might come up is invaluable so that I can focus on building my business.”
To date, the Office of Legal Services has approved 20 pilot proposals, which offer a wide variety of legal services, including online legal document preparation and criminal expungement assistance, just to name a couple.
Even pro-bono nonprofit legal organizations are able to propose new and creative ways to help those in desperate need of legal help.
The Timpanogos Legal Center provides free legal assistance to thousands of self-represented clients. The center submitted an application to the sandbox and was recently approved for a pilot that will allow domestic violence victim advocates to provide legal advice in helping victims fill out court forms for protective orders and stalking injunctions, and prepare victims for court.
“It is a thrilling opportunity to be in the first wave of programs that will open doors for Utahns in need to receive legal assistance,” said Susan Griffith, Executive Director of Timpanogos Legal Center. “I encourage other non-profits to study and strategize ways to use the opportunities created through the Regulatory Sandbox to benefit their communities.”
Utah’s legal regulatory sandbox has caught the attention of legal industries all over the world. Recently the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), based out of the University of Denver, announced that Utah Supreme Court Justice Deno Himonas, and Utah attorney John Lund are the 2021 recipient of its Rebuilding Justice Award for co-chairing the work group which led to the founding of the Office of Legal Services Innovation. The award recognizes innovation and leadership that helps to build a legal system that is accessible, fair, reliable, efficient, and accountable. Its first award recipient was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
“Justice Himonas and Mr. Lund have worked tirelessly to promote access to justice,” said Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant. “They are both deeply committed to finding innovative ways to get more legal services to more people. They are extraordinary leaders whose passion is contagious, and I’m deeply grateful for their dedication to this cause.”
“I’m really honored to have been named a co-recipient of the Rebuilding Justice Award along with John Lund, my colleague on this adventure,” said Justice Himonas. “But in truth and fairness, the award is shared with my colleagues on the Utah Supreme Court, who have been working so hard at improving access to justice for all Utahns, and to all of the members of the regulatory reform work group, implementation task force, and Office of Legal Services Innovation.”
“It is very humbling to be receiving this award along with Justice Himonas, especially in light of the list of incredible justice leaders who have been honored in prior years,” said John Lund. “Rebuilding justice is exactly what Utah’s sandbox is all about. The real reward has been seeing innovators come forward and construct new ways to deliver affordable and accessible legal services to those who so desperately need them.”
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