California’s state bar has paused committee work on creating a legal regulatory sandbox after lawmakers last week questioned whether the agency has strayed from its core public protection mission.

In an email sent last week to members of the Closing the Justice Gap Working Group, a state bar official said the committee’s chair and bar leadership decided to cancel upcoming meetings “to allow time for further conversations and determine the best next steps.”

The state bar did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.

The decision to regroup follows a Dec. 7 letter to the bar from the chairmen of the legislative judiciary committees, Assemblyman Mark Stone and Sen. Tom Umberg, warning that any proposals to give nonlawyers a role in providing legal services “would be heavily scrutinized” by the Legislature.

The Closing the Justice Gap Working Group has been studying the idea of a regulatory sandbox, which would allow nonlawyers to develop legal services, such as apps, targeting Californians who cannot afford attorneys. The notion has been popularized by a program in the state of Utah, although the plaintiffs bar, defense counsel and legal aid groups have questioned efforts to launch such an operation to California.

“The regulatory sandbox could become an open invitation for profit-driven corporations, hedge funds, or others to offer legal services or directly practice law without appropriate legal training, regulatory oversight, protections inherent in the attorney-client relationship, or adequate discipline to the detriment of Californians in need of legal assistance,” the two lawmakers wrote.

In the Dec. 9 email to working group members, Bridget Fogarty Gramme, the state bar’s deputy chief of programs, wrote that “we do not agree with all of the assumptions in the letter, and believe that there will be value to California consumers with a regulatory sandbox.”

In a statement issued last week, Ruben Duran, chair of the bar’s board of trustees, said the agency’s leaders are “fully committed” to working with the Legislature “to address their concerns and ensure that the State Bar effectively fulfills all aspects of its statutory mission: public protection, expanding access to legal services, and furthering diversity in the legal profession.”