Ronald Flagg, Public Interest Law Champion
Arriving in the District of Columbia in 1980, former D.C. Bar President Ronald Flagg began work at the U.S. Department of Justice before joining Sidley Austin LLP, where he handled general and regulatory litigation for 31 years and served as chair of the firm’s pro bono committee. Flagg has also worked closely with the D.C. Bar, serving on the Board of Governors from 2007 to 2009, and as president from 2010 to 2011. He is currently vice president for legal affairs, general counsel, and corporate secretary of the Legal Services Corporation.
Over the course of his career, Flagg has noted several major changes in the legal profession. One is increased diversity, with women and people of color taking on more roles throughout the profession; another is greater availability of information about law firms and lawyers. Thanks to the internet and the push for transparency, prospective clients can now more easily learn what firms have to offer. Likewise, attorneys entering the job market find it easier to investigate different niches available in the profession.
With information just a keystroke away, Flagg says that competition has intensified substantially over the past 40 years. Clients are far more willing to switch counsel and encourage competition for their business, while firms are vying for the best new talent. New lawyers are facing an increasingly competitive job market.
“More information and more competition are generally good, but there are side effects, which are not always ideal,” says Flagg. “A more competitive marketplace has generally led to more stress.”
Inside the Bar, Flagg is encouraged by its increasing diversity, and he hopes the organization will continue to identify and provide practice tips for attorneys in solo or small practices, as well as opportunities to network.
With the changing legal landscape, Flagg says the Bar must remain steadfast to its core values, notably service to clients and commitment to access to justice. “The D.C. Bar should be a leader and a convener in promoting its core values, including providing pro bono counsel to people who cannot afford lawyers and making the courts more hospitable and accessible to those who are unrepresented,” he says.