Thursday, March 18, 2021
Wall Street Journal op-ed: Eliminate the Bar Exam for Lawyers: The Disadvantaged Pay the Price For an Elitist Legal System., by Clifford Winston (Brookings Institution; Co-author, Trouble at the Bar: An Economics Perspective on the Legal Profession and the Case for Fundamental Reform (2021)):
The legal profession regulates itself—which explains how lawyers get away with practices that pad their own earnings and block nonlawyers from selling competing services at lower prices.
Congress may soon strengthen the antitrust enforcement powers of the Biden administration’s Justice Department. The department should use those powers to eliminate the American Bar Association’s monopoly in determining what constitutes an acceptable legal education and state licensing requirements, which restrict the supply of lawyers. ...
Eliminating both the ABA’s monopoly control of legal education and states’ licensing requirement would allow alternative legal education programs to flourish, including vocational and online courses that could be completed in less than a year and college programs that offer a bachelor’s degree in law. Graduates of those programs could expand the availability of effective, low-cost civil legal services. Three-year law schools would be forced by the new competition to reduce tuition and the time to graduate. More J.D.s would be free to pursue a career in public-interest law if they were less encumbered by law school debt. ...
By eliminating ABA’s monopoly on legal education and licensing requirements, antitrust authorities could help the most disadvantaged members of society benefit from access to justice.