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The “regulatory objectives movement” is a relatively new movement that can be traced to events culminating in the adoption of the 2007 UK Legal Services Act. Section 1 of that Act, which was hotly debated, set forth the regulatory objectives that the Act—and its implementation—should achieve. The UK Act was followed by initiatives in a number of other national jurisdictions that sought to identify regulatory objectives for the legal profession. In short, it is increasingly common to find jurisdictions adopting an explicit and succinct statement of the objectives they are trying to achieve when they regulate lawyers. This article recommends that US jurisdictions take note of the new regulatory objectives movement and, for reasons set forth in the article, consider doing something comparable. Although the process may require the investment of time and resources in the short term, this investment should prove worthwhile in the long term. The article also recommends that using an adoption process that is transparent and that encourages meaningful input from a wide variety of stakeholders. For example, each state Supreme Court could establish a “regulatory objectives” task force that includes lawyers, clients, judges, and representatives from consumer protection and antitrust agencies. The task force should be given a deadline by which it is expected to circulate a draft set of proposed regulatory objectives. These draft objectives should be widely circulated at in-person gatherings of lawyers, such as an annual state bar meeting, and at meetings where there are in-person gatherings of other important stakeholders, such as clients, courts, and the public. After gathering written and oral comments, the regulatory objectives task force should present its final recommendations to the high court for adoption. This process should ensure that inadvertent omissions are avoided and that there is a vigorous public debate on the goals of lawyer regulation. This should lead to greater public understanding of our system of lawyer regulation. In sum, I urge US states to jump on the regulatory objectives bandwagon and to begin the process of developing objectives suitable for their respective jurisdictions.

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Prof. Law.