Vanderbilt Law Review

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The bar has long sought to make legal services readily available to all persons whatever their situation. Thus, the bar has sponsored legal aid societies and lawyer referral systems, and has promoted neighborhood law offices. These methods all meet the bar's traditional individualistic view that the attorney-client relationship should be direct without any third party interference. However, the lay public, often bewildered by a myriad of unfamiliar names in the yellow pages, continues to seek means of securing legal services more cheaply, more efficiently, and more reliably. Group legal services--whereby an organized group procures legal services for its individual members--are one such means. Certainly an association can employ a lawyer to handle the legal affairs of the association as an entity. However, the employment--and even the recommendation--of lawyers by an organization to represent its individual members in their individual affairs has been strongly opposed by the bar and by the courts. Such action, making the organization a lay intermediary between the lawyer and the individual client, has been characterized as the unauthorized practice of law; and the lawyers employed or recommended by the group have been condemned for violation of the standards of professional conduct. It is the purpose of this note to consider whether this condemnation can stand after the recent decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States in the cases of NAACP v. Button and Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Virginia ex rel. Virginia State Bar.

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