Wednesday, October 26, 2011
For decades the legal industry has operated as a monopoly, which has been made possible by its self-imposed rules and state licensing restrictions — namely, the requirements that lawyers must graduate from an ABA-accredited law school and pass a state bar examination. The industry claims these requirements are essential quality-control measures because consumers do not have sufficient information to judge in advance whether a lawyer is competent and honest. In reality, though, occupational licensure has been costly and ineffective; it misleads consumers about the quality of licensed lawyers and the potential for non-lawyers to provide able assistance.
Rather than improving quality, the barriers to entry exist simply to protect lawyers from competition with non-lawyers and firms that are not lawyer-owned — competition that could reduce legal costs and give the public greater access to legal assistance. ...
To protect clients from bad lawyers, current barriers to entry try to separate the wheat from the chaff among potential legal practitioners. A market for information, though, would let consumers identify the chaff more precisely, saving more of the wheat. It is worth recalling that two of the finest lawyers and civil rights advocates our country has ever produced, Abraham Lincoln and Clarence Darrow, would not be allowed to practice law today under current rules. (Lincoln was self-taught; Darrow attended the University of Michigan Law School but did not graduate.) Eliminating entry barriers and allowing non-lawyers to perform legal & services would, among many other gains, ensure that such talents have a place within our legal system.
- Above the Law, New York Times Op-Ed Advocates Letting Everybody Play ‘Lawyer’
- My Shingle, No Need to Deregulate Lawyers if We Debunk An Economist
- Truth on the Market, Unlocking the Law Symposium
- Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Lincoln Was Self-Taught . . . So Why Go To Law School?