As part of our Future of Legal Services Speaker Series, on August 20 IAALS and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law co-hosted a virtual panel discussion on how regulatory reform—and the innovative and diverse ecosystems such reform can create—can help address issues of racial injustice. This esteemed panel featured legal industry leaders and access to justice advocates Rohan Pavuluri (Co-Founder/CEO, Upsolve), Andrea S. Jarmon (Founder, Jarmon Law Group), and Andrew Arruda (Co-Founder/CEO, ROSS Intelligence).

Video of the event is available below. A recap of the event is available here.

The lack of diversity in the legal industry is well-known and has taken on a new sense of urgency in light of current events and the widespread demands that society finally dismantle systemic racism. But the fact that the legal regulatory system also perpetuates racial inequity—both within and outside of the legal system—is rarely addressed.

From the LSAT to the bar exam and beyond, the considerable regulatory obstacles that a person must overcome to practice law excludes many diverse voices and communities from the legal industry. This closed and, some would argue, monopolistic industry also effectively limits the number of legal service providers available to help those who need it. We know that the number of people who need legal help but cannot access it is substantial—and will continue to grow in light of the COVID-19 pandemic—and the access to justice gap disproportionately impacts people and communities of color. Rethinking the current regulatory structure of the legal system is critical if we are to successfully diversify and expand the profession’s ability to serve the public.

Our panelists and the ensuing discussion focused on concrete efforts to change these regulatory structures and how members of the legal profession can lead around these efforts.

Approved for one hour of Colorado CLE credit.

Rohan Pavuluri is the CEO and co-founder of Upsolve, a nonprofit that helps low-income families file bankruptcy for free using an online web app. Upsolve has relieved over $225 million in debt and is America's largest consumer bankruptcy nonprofit. In 2019, Fast Company named Upsolve the Social Justice World Changing Idea of the Year. He is also a board director at the National Access to Justice Center, a member of the Making Justice Accessible Project at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Emerging Leaders Council of the Legal Services Corporation. Pavuluri graduated from Harvard College with an AB in Statistics.

Andrea S. Jarmon is a self-described "Lawyer Mommy.” This single mother of seven manages a full household and a solo law practice. Her practice focuses primarily on representing indigent clients in dependency, criminal, and family law matters. Prior to establishing her private practice, Andrea was a prosecutor with the City of Seattle, the City of Auburn, and also served as an Assistant Attorney General.

Andrea is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law, where she was a Teaching Fellow in the law school's Legal Writing Program. The UW is the same institution she entered as a homeless undergraduate student and went on to earn BA degrees in English and Women’s Studies. Andrea taught as an adjunct faculty member for six years at Green River Community College and two years at Tacoma Community College. She is a former member of the Washington State Bar Association's Board of Governors and LLLT Board and currently serves on WSBA's Diversity Committee.

Andrew Arruda is a Canadian entrepreneur and attorney. He is chief executive officer and co-founder of the artificial intelligence company ROSS Intelligence, a leader in the legal technology industry. Arruda speaks internationally on the subjects of AI, legal technology, and entrepreneurship and has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, BBC, WIRED, CNBC, CBS, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, and the Financial Times. A member of the Forbes 30 under 30 class of 2017, as well as a 2016 TED speaker, Arruda aims to forever change the way legal services are delivered. Prior to co-founding ROSS Intelligence, Arruda worked at a Toronto litigation boutique and with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development in Lisbon, Portugal. Arruda is proud to have served as Subcommittee Chair of the Alternative Business Services and Multi-Disciplinary Practices subcommittee of the State Bar of California’s Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Service (ATILS) and to currently serve on the IAALS Board of Advisors.