Paul L. Caron

Friday, March 11, 2022

Protecting The P(ocket)UBLIC: Why The Legal Professions Regulation/Shmegulation Is Truly Just All About The Benjamins

Barnett Harris (J.D. 2021, Georgetown), Protecting the P(ocket)UBLIC: Why the Legal Professions Regulation/Shmegulation Is Truly Just All About the Benjamins, 12 Hous. L. Rev. Online __ (2022):

In 1972, there was a proposal presented to the American Bar Association, which would have eased up just one of the stringent barriers to the practice of law. The proposal would have cleared the way for law schools to offer a two-year law degree program. It failed. Scholars, practitioners, and even members of the Supreme Court have argued that the current level of regulation of the legal profession is unjustified. Regulators of the legal profession continuously expand the practice of law, thereby continuously reducing who may provide these services. While arising from noble intentions, regulators’ insistence on stringently regulating the legal profession in such a way exacerbates the access to justice crisis the same regulations created.

Although regulators have traditionally established such rules for the protection of the public and the profession, current realities warrant a reevaluation. This Essay contends that the current regulatory regime harms the public and needs to be corrected. The Essay suggests two ways States can do that. First, States can eliminate the three-year law school requirement. And second, States can relax the restrictions on nonlawyers providing certain services deemed to be “legal.” Given the access to justice crisis, States should reevaluate the regulation of the legal profession. Current regulation stems from a deeply fractured and conflicted system. Fixing these flaws will begin to restore faith in the profession—as it rectifies some of the inequities caused by the regulations.

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