Legal Adaptive Capacity and How Agencies Respond to Change

When Congress creates administrative agencies to address social problems, it cannot envision all of the circumstances in which they may be called on to exercise their delegated statutory authority. Indeed, the recognition that agencies will address questions on which Congress lacks expertise or experience is a principal reason for delegating regulatory or management authority to them in the first place.

Legal Adaptive Capacity and How Agencies Respond to Change

Some agencies are embedded in a legal infrastructure that is better situated to accommodate to changed conditions or novel problems than others, however. The adaptability of the goals that Congress sets out in an agency’s organic statute can either facilitate or doom that agency’s efforts to effectuate programmatic goals in the face of change.

We call this adaptability legal adaptive capacity, meaning the formal legal regime’s capacity to adapt to new phenomena. For our purposes, this regime comprises rules—such as agency regulations, manuals, plans, and guidance—promulgated by public legal institutions, including legislatures, courts, and administrative agencies. Legal adaptive capacity does not refer to other factors, such as resource constraints or agency culture, which may nonetheless influence the adaptive capacity of a regulatory regime.

Law can facilitate (or hamper) adaptation through both substantive and procedural means. We focus on substantive legal adaptive capacity, which we define as the degree to which statutory or regulatory goals are capable of accommodating change. An agency with a high degree of substantive legal adaptive capacity has the authority to adjust its interpretation of regulatory goals or the means of pursuing them, so as to meet new challenges or accommodate changed circumstances. A program with limited substantive legal adaptive capacity has relatively rigid goals that do not allow the agency to alter its regulatory or management approach, notwithstanding changed conditions. Substantive legal adaptive capacity thus measures the extent of elasticity in regulatory or management goals. Accordingly, two regulatory regimes may have similar levels of substantive legal adaptive capacity but nonetheless different regulatory goals.

To illustrate the value of the concept of legal adaptive capacity, consider the extent to which the four principal federal land management agencies—the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management—have taken actions to prepare for the effects of climate change on the lands and resources that they manage, including wilderness areas under the Wilderness Act of 1964. Contrary to conventional wisdom—which is largely focused on the degree of an agency’s so-called commitment to conservation—the pacesetter in climate change adaptation among the land management agencies has been the Forest Service, followed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Bureau of Land Management generally appears to be the agency least ready to minimize the impacts of climate change, though wilderness areas across all agencies are the least prepared.

We believe that part of the explanation for the Forest Service’s demonstrated leadership in this area is the degree to which its organic statute, the National Forest Management Act of 1976, provides expansive substantive legal adaptive capacity. The statute’s focus on long-term ecological sustainability and diversity establishes a broad but not overly specific resource management goal—management for multiple uses and sustained yield.

The National Park Service, by comparison, operates under longstanding regulatory interpretations that require it to preserve resources in their historical conditions and minimize the degree of human intervention with nature. These instructions are notably ill-suited to adapting the agency’s management approaches to climate change, given the unprecedented changes climate change has already begun to invoke as well as its resulting natural resource impacts. Even if the Park Service were fully committed to adapting to climate change, therefore, its substantive legal adaptive capacity would hinder its ability to do so by tethering it to resource conditions that may become impossible to sustain.

The organic legislation and promulgated regulations for the national wildlife refuges provide a moderate degree of flexibility in selecting management goals and the means to achieve them, situating the Fish and Wildlife Service as refuge manager somewhere between the Forest Service and the Park Service in both the degree of substantive legal adaptive capacity and the progress it has made in preparing for climate change.

The outlier is the Bureau of Land Management, which has substantive legal adaptive capacity similar in scope to the Forest Service’s, but which has done the least to address climate change. The absence of clear and enforceable directives to exercise substantive legal adaptive capacity may partially explain the difference between Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service adaptation. But beyond possessing legal adaptive capacity, the agency must also be willing to exercise the discretion it has been afforded. Agency traditions, culture, and resource constraints—to name just a few factors—may hinder it from doing so. Thus, although the Bureau has sufficient legal adaptive capacity to address climate change, its organic statute does not require it to exercise that authority, and the agency has been slow to do so.

More broadly, we recognize that expanding substantive legal adaptive capacity involves trade offs, and greater agency pliability may not always be desirable. In the federal lands context, however, the trade offs strongly point toward enhancing the four agencies’ substantive legal adaptive capacity because doing so is more likely to promote ecological health than adherence to the historical and non interventionist values that federal land conservation laws also express. .

Mandating the advancement of, and periodic re-assessment against, a flexible goal—such as the promotion of ecological health in light of changing conditions—may maximize the chance for effective adaptation to change rather than impede it.

Different Types of Legal Transcription Services

In recent years, the demand for talented and professional individuals to take on the task of writing accurate and grammatically correct legal records has been on the rise. These individuals, known as legal transcriptionists, are being looked to in order to take some of the workload from lawyers and paralegals who have a need for accurate records but do not have the time to construct them. Many reputable companies and individuals are now providing their services to law firms, banks, insurance companies, and government organizations in order to quickly supply legal records that are easier to understand. Not only are these services easing the workload of busy professionals, they are also improving the quality of legal records to make for more accurate and organized legal systems.

Legal transcriptionists use the latest technology to take dictations from legal professionals and transcribe them into official documents. These professionals generally work as secretaries in offices, allowing them full access to files and information. This profession is rising in importance as the need for accurate documentation increases. Their services help to create and maintain organized and detailed legal records that will help their superiors win more cases or conduct better business. The records created by them also allow for a more efficiently run company because the workers spend less time concentrating on organization and more time on productive work.

Today there are several reputable companies that provide top-notch transcription services to those in need. TranscriptionStar is one of the most well-known transcription service providers that supply services to numerous corporations and small businesses in the U.S. and Europe. They work under the head of iSource, which uses the latest technology to provide high-quality, cost effective transcription services to their vast client base. TranscriptionStar provides several areas of transcription services other than legal that include medical, business, research, educational, and media. TranscriptionStar is HIPAA compliant and provides strict security in accordance with PHI Privacy and Security.

For larger jobs, RapidText is a good service that provides legal transcription to various businesses but prefers to work on larger projects and establish long-term relationships. The company employs around 250 transcriptionists who are well-trained and knowledgeable in several different fields, helping to provide the best and most complete documents possible.

For smaller or average sized jobs, TranscriptionStudio is a good place to look. TranscriptionStudio offers experienced professionals who have knowledge in a variety of legal areas. The versatility that this service provides allows the employees to supply transcription services to a variety of legal sectors. The company specializes in insurance, government, law, and media related fields and offers a one hundred percent satisfaction guarantee.

UKtyping is another company that offers it to various groups. The company specializes in strictly legal services and has the advantage of vast knowledge in everything legal related. UKtyping provides great resources and tools to aid in dictation and record creation. The company works mainly with lawyers, doctors, accountants, authors, and property professionals but claims to be able to adapt to most other fields.

NCH is a site that supplies a list of businesses that are currently looking for transcriptionists. The site posts jobs from companies located all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, Asia, and Europe.

The services provided by legal transcriptionists are becoming invaluable resources to various companies throughout the U.S. These legal secretaries are single-handedly improving the way organizations run their businesses. The outpour of positions that are now available give the added perk of versatility in the workplace, allowing transcriptionists to find jobs in various sectors other than the legal world. Although these professionals do not always receive the recognition they deserve, there are steps being taken to create organizations that will promote better treatment and provide more rights. These organizations will also be able to spell out precisely which qualifications should be necessary before embarking on a career in legal transcription. Hopefully these advancements will create better working conditions and help improve America’s legal record system

Challenges of the Legal Services Act

The imminent introduction of the Legal Services Act presents new challenges for high street firms as it enables companies other than solicitors to provide legal services under what is known as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS). This means that individuals can visit an ABS for various legal services, such as, wills, probate and conveyancing. Already companies such as Co-op, the AA and Saga have become ABSs in direct competition with the traditional high street solicitors practice.

The problem facing a majority of solicitor’s practices is that large companies will clearly have a commercial advantage over the high street legal practice that used to dot every high street. Going forward a well known ‘brand’ will get custom regardless of the quality of their legal service merely due to their reputation in other areas. They also benefit from economies of scale, so can undercut the prices of smaller high street solicitors and advertise aggressively, knowing that their smaller rivals cannot compete. In addition, they have the benefit of convenience; why visit a solicitor when you can get a will written while doing the weekly shop? A survey by Yougov has shown that 60% of those surveyed would buy legal services from a known retail brand rather than a local solicitor. This makes the future look very gloomy for the average high street solicitors practice. You only have to glance down a high street to see the lack of independent retailers due to being priced out by large corporate brands. By visiting the same brand for legal services, the legal profession will go the same way.

More worryingly, critics argue that it will damage the independence of the profession. Solicitors often work in small partnerships, independent from the clients they serve, striving to provide good quality legal services building client confidence, loyalty and client recommendations. However, bring in a major retailer with interests in several sectors and the outlook changes dramatically. Solicitors are responsible for their own reputation which is earned through the service they provide, making them personally liable for the work they undertake. Larger retailers simply do not have the same degree of liability; if a mistake is made it does not affect the company on a national scale. With large companies there is also the possibility that they will only be interested in the relatively simple tasks in order to make a quick buck, leaving the riskier and more expensive work for their high street competitors.

If an ABS can offer routine legal services without what may appear to be a hefty price tag, why choose a high street firm? Firstly, there is the personal service and client relationship; a solicitor can build up a strong relationship with a client over several years, thus better understanding the needs of each situation. In law, due to the vast diversity of situations, there simply cannot be an effective one size fits all model (the likely approach of the likes of the AA, Co-op etc). Instead of a mass-produced product, a high street solicitor can offer you an approach tailored to meet your needs. Most solicitors firms operate in a team of highly qualified specialists to provide a quality service rather than one solicitor heading a large group of paralegals or unqualified legal assistants. Put simply, high street firms offer quality over quantity. To ensure their future high street law firms have to maintain their professional standards.

It is true that high street firms need to adapt to have a chance of competing with big business. However, the days of the sole practitioner will soon be gone. For the smaller firms to survive they may no alternative but to merge with other professional services, such as, accountants and IFA’s to provide all business and personal services under one roof. No matter what steps they take, high street solicitors need to show that they are just as accessible and approachable as the big brands. Ultimately, receiving legal advice is a service: you pay for the quality you receive. Buying a house or deciding who inherits your worldly possessions is an important decision. Why cut corners to save a few pounds when a quality personal service is around the corner waiting to help?