The legal profession is always changing, with new strategies and approaches evolving and shifting the way law is practiced. This is true of every practice area, from working with underserved communities to creating innovative ways to work with clients. One emerging strategy is called “law new.” As the name suggests, this involves embracing new ideas and ways of doing business that are different from traditional practice, while focusing on providing valuable legal help to clients. It can be difficult to define, but at its core, law new is a way for firms to serve more clients in innovative and exciting ways while still maintaining their primary focus on legal work.
A recent example is New York City’s bail reform law, which has been amended to give judges more discretion when it comes to imposing conditions for pretrial release that could include travel restrictions or surrendering passports. The goal of the original law was to reduce the number of people jailed while awaiting trial simply because they can’t afford to pay cash bail. Judges can still impose the most restrictive conditions, but now they will have wider latitude to fashion those terms, and they will be required to disclose more data about how many people are released on bail and what happens afterward, including whether the individuals return to court.
Another new law involves requiring City agencies to promptly notify employees and job applicants about student loan forgiveness programs. The bill would also require these notices to include the specific requirements under state law to be eligible for these programs.
For most firms, using techniques like these to benefit more clients and make their practices more efficient is a good thing. However, it’s important for those involved in the field to understand that, while these types of initiatives can be a great complement to a firm’s primary focus, they should not be considered an alternative to standard law practice. They should be seen as an entirely separate and valuable form of service that can be incorporated into any firm’s strategy, with appropriate consideration for costs and other factors.