The Commercialization of Legal Ethics

13 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2016

Date Written: September 13, 2016


This essay identifies and defines an emerging trend I call the “commercialization of legal ethics,” a confluence of profit-driven forces supplementing and, perhaps, in some ways even replacing traditional lawyer regulation, i.e. the ethical rules modeled by the American Bar Association and adopted by courts, tribunals, or legislative bodies to govern the practice of law. This phenomenon promises to fill long-enduring gaps in access to justice by expanding the availability of new types of legal services providers and the availability of information about how to obtain quality legal assistance. At the same time, however, this phenomenon also raises concerns about consumer protection. Lawyers and their regulators should proactively consider how they might partner with established and emerging commercial providers in order to best preserve and adapt the traditional structure of legal ethics that defines the necessary character and fitness to practice law and to protect consumers of legal services. The profession also ought to engage in meaningful public education about how to accurately assess one’s legal needs and to select the best provider to address those needs.

Suggested Citation

Newman Knake, Renee, The Commercialization of Legal Ethics (September 13, 2016). Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2016 ; U of Houston Law Center No. 2016-A-14. Available at SSRN:

Renee Newman Knake (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

Houston, TX 77003
United States


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