AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jeff Bell, Chief Executive Officer of LegalShield, one of North America’s leading providers of affordable legal plans and the IDShield identity theft solution for individuals, families and small businesses, moderated a panel session on Tuesday, March 14 at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas. The session, titled “Affordable and Accessible Lawyers: Really?”, focused on the existing justice gap in the United States, where citizens are forced to play against law firms that are too expensive or simply trying to fill a capacity gap of billable hours.
The panelists included Michael Hunter, Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma, Judy Perry Martinez, chair of the American Bar Association Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services and Daniel B. Rodriguez, Dean of Northwestern University School of Law, who participated via video conferencing. All three participants spoke passionately about the need for affordable legal services, the need for law schools to enable students to better service those in need and how technology and the shared economy are transforming the way citizens access lawyers and law firms.
Hunter, the former Oklahoma Secretary of State and first assistant attorney general, was appointed to the position of attorney general in February 2017. He worked as chief legal advisor for the former administration, overseeing a staff of more than 200 lawyers, law enforcement agents and staff.
“There is going to be continuing disruption in the legal marketplace and increased competition,” he said. “You can do your research on the internet now and determine which law firms are good and will fit your needs, and that competition is going to cause rates to go down.”
Perry Martinez served as Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer of Northrop Grumman Corporation. Before being named CCO, Judy oversaw Northrop Grumman’s litigation for the western half of the country and was named to the Company's Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council. Prior to joining Northrop in 2003, she was a commercial litigator at the New Orleans law firm of Simon, Peragine, Smith & Redfearn for 21 years where she was a member of the management committee. Earlier this year, Judy retired from Northrop Grumman to pursue a full-time career in public service.
“One of the challenges and opportunities of the American Bar Association is to empower lawyers to be more efficient so they can spend more time doing what they do best, so they can help more people and do it at rates that will be affordable,” said Perry Martinez.
Rodriguez was appointed Dean and Harold Washington Professor at Northwestern Pritzker Law School in January 2012.
A nationally prominent law teacher and scholar, Rodriguez’s principal academic work is in the areas of administrative law, local government law, and constitutional law. He also has a special interest in the law-business-technology interface and its impact on the future of legal education. He is a leader in the application of political economy to the study of public law and has authored or co-authored a series of influential articles and book chapters in this vein.
“We are in the business of training students to become lawyers, but we are also in the business of advancing the rule of law,” said Rodriguez.
“LegalShield was founded over 45 years ago on the principle of providing all citizens with access to affordable legal services, and we were thrilled to have a high-profile platform at SXSW to share our insights on how technology and the shared economy are disrupting the legal profession,” said Bell.
LegalShield is one of the North America’s leading providers of legal safeguards for individuals, families and small businesses. The company also offers one of the industry’s most affordable and comprehensive identity theft plans, IDShield. LegalShield plans provide protection to more than 4.2 million individuals, and IDShield provides identity monitoring and restoration services to more than one million individuals across North America. In addition, LegalShield and IDShield serve more than 141,000 businesses.
For as low as $20 per month, LegalShield members get access to attorneys with an average of 19 years of experience in areas such as family matters, estate planning, financial and business issues, consumer protection, tax, real estate, benefits disputes and auto/driving issues. Unlike other legal plans or do-it-yourself websites, LegalShield has dedicated law firms in 50 states and four provinces in Canada that members can call for help without having to worry about high hourly rates.