The Legal Profession and the Case for Fundamental Reform: Access to Justice

|

Limited access to justice is a reality for most people. It is estimated that the legal profession fails to serve 80 percent of the public and continues to build access barriers for people seeking legal services. The Legal Services Corporation indicates that the problem is particularly acute for low-income Americans because 86 percent of their civil legal problems have not been addressed with adequate or professional legal help.

People representing themselves are at a disadvantage. The National Center for State Courts found, for example, that 75 percent of civil matters in major urban areas had at least one self-represented party; those parties are less likely to prevail in court. Others who cannot afford legal assistance end up stuck in horrific circumstances, such as domestic violence, that should be criminal matters.

A few states have taken preliminary steps to improve access to legal services and some legal scholars and practitioners are clearly concerned about the problem. For example, Judge Richard Posner abruptly retired from the bench in 2017 to assist less-affluent people with valid legal claims because he believed that the courts were not fairly treating litigants who could not afford a lawyer. However, the profession overall is doing little to significantly increase access to justice. The 1 to 2 percent of all legal effort that consists of pro bono service to the poor is not a solution to excessive prices for basic services that most people cannot afford, such as $1500 for a simple contract.

Generally, high prices that persist in an industry can be reduced by additional competition that causes incumbent suppliers to reduce their costs and prices and includes new industry entrants that might become low-cost producers that cause prices to fall even further. Accordingly, Trouble at the Bar calls for deregulating the legal profession to eliminate entry barriers, increase competition, reduce prices, and increase access to justice.

Deregulation encompasses eliminating the American Bar Association's control over legal education and eliminating mandatory state licensing requirements. The ABA accredits law schools that offer an acceptable three-year course of study, which students generally complete—and are often required to complete—before taking a state bar examination to obtain a license to practice law. However, many people who are interested in providing legal services cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs and opportunity cost of not working for three years to obtain a law degree. Those who can often take a high-paying job instead of a lower-paying, public-interest job to pay off their accumulated law school debt.

Eliminating requirements to attend an ABA-accredited law school would allow legal education to evolve and respond to the diverse interests of potential new legal service providers who could help the public without graduating from a costly ABA-accredited law school. Alternative educational institutions would offer new programs, including but not limited to specialized vocational and online courses of study that could be completed in less than a year. Those could greatly expand the provision of effective, low-cost civil legal services.

In addition, new programs would enable college undergraduates to major in and receive a bachelor's degree in law. Some graduates could immediately provide valuable legal services that did not require advanced coursework or considerable experience. Other graduates could complete an accelerated law school program in much less than three years, as occurs in Europe.

Deregulation seeks to increase competition for and alternatives to incumbent suppliers, not to prohibit their existence. So, traditional three-year law schools would continue to exist, and the ABA could continue to accredit law schools, as could any other accrediting institution that develops. The competition from alternative legal education programs would force traditional law schools to reduce their tuition. As a result, more graduates would be less encumbered by debt and more likely to pursue a career in public-interest law.

Entry deregulation would allow any individual to offer legal services without requiring them to obtain a specific legal education and to pass a state bar examination. Again, individuals would be free to attend traditional ABA-accredited law schools, take bar examinations, and acquire any other form of certification. Deregulation would also allow any firm or corporation, including foreign entities, to provide legal services without being owned by lawyers.

Firms in other industries operate ethically as public corporations; the exclusion of corporations providing legal services has been justified on the unsubstantiated grounds that corporations would be conflicted between representing their shareholders and their clients. The evidence from Washington, DC, which permits an Alternative Business Structure with nonlawyer ownership of a law firm, does not indicate that nonlawyer owners have pressured lawyers into ethics violations.

In sum, deregulation would lead to a more heterogeneous supply of lawyers and more intense competition among incumbent law firms and new legal service entrants. New low-cost legal services would be offered, current legal services would be offered at lower prices, and leaders of the global legal service industry would pioneer adoption of technological innovations that further reduce costs and prices for many services.

Some object that deregulation is likely to increase the number of lawyers, which includes legal service providers without a JD from an ABA-accredited law school, when the United States already has too many lawyers. However, this objection fails to consider that the equilibrium of supply and demand determines the number of lawyers.

The current high prices for legal services that reduce demand and the barriers to legal practice that reduce supply suggest that 1.3 million US lawyers are too few, not too many, and help explain why the United States ranks below other countries in terms of the accessibility and affordability of civil legal services. By decreasing the price of legal services and increasing the supply of lawyers, albeit increasing the share of low-cost legal service providers, which, as noted, will be part of the legal profession, and those wishing to practice public-interest law, deregulation would benefit the public by increasing the equilibrium number of lawyers.

Other objections to deregulating the legal profession are based on either a lack of appreciation of deregulation's likely effects or a misunderstanding of what deregulation means. Trouble at the Bar argues that in practice, ABA regulations and education requirements do little to improve the quality of legal services. Scholars continue to debate why ABA regulations and education requirements were even adopted. In any case, states did not quickly adopt them to improve the quality of legal services for an allegedly uninformed public. Indeed, state legislatures took decades to adopt ABA education requirements because many state legislators themselves were graduates of unaccredited law schools and they would have to admit that they were not qualified to practice law!

Market forces have created websites, such as Angie's List and Yelp, as well as social media platforms, which can accurately inform consumers about the quality, reputation, and performance of a broad range of service providers. Similar websites, such as AVVO and Martindale-Hubble, currently exist for lawyers. Others would proliferate, offering even more detailed information about legal service providers for a larger, more discerning, and more heterogenous volume of consumers.

Critics also assert that deregulation of lawyers is tantamount to advocating that doctors should not have to go to medical school, complete residency training, and obtain a license to practice medicine. As noted, no one would have to hire a lawyer who did not go to law school or pass a bar examination. Those who did would undoubtedly require credible evidence that the legal service provider was competent to perform the desired legal service.

Deregulation simply allows the market, not self-interested institutions, to determine the extent and type of legal education and credentials that are appropriate for a lawyer to perform specific services demanded by clients. Clearly, legal service providers who are assisting someone with a basic contract do not need to demonstrate the same level of competence, as indicated by educational degrees and professional accomplishments, as a lawyer representing a client before the Supreme Court or defending a homicide charge.

Finally, critics assert that many jobs, such as social workers, advocates, and paralegals, already exist to help alleviate legal problems, yet they ignore that most of the public is still not served by the legal profession. Deregulation would enable considerably more of the public to afford legal services at prices that, in general, would be markedly below current prices. Thus, the "law of demand" and new sources of supply would greatly expand access to justice.

NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: April 27, 1822

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Great article. A lawyer once point out to me that the law is more a money game than a legal game. If you can afford a competent attorney you get justice if not you get what you can. How many people now in jail would be there if they had access to legal talent like Derek Chauvin, O.J. Simpson, or Donald Trump? To name a few.

    One more thing. Our is history is full of great legal minds that learned there profession reading law book and not in law school classes. Including Abraham Lincoln.

    1. Here in Florida, we had the ghastly spectacle of a governor who narrowly avoided being convicted of millions of dollars in Medicaid fraud only because he had the money to afford top notch legal talent, then as governor fairly consistently denying pardons to people who, had they had access to his lawyers, probably would not have been convicted in the first place. I guess some people really have no shame.

      1. “narrowly avoided being convicted”

        Fake news. He was never even indicted.

        1. He was never even indicted because he had superlative attorneys. Someone without his legal budget would have been not only indicted but convicted.

          1. Nonsense. You do not know these things.

            How did these wizards force the DOJ to not indict?

            The company pled guilty, did they not have access to expensive superlative lawyers too?

            1. The idea that the company was guilty but its CEO was not is ridiculous. The plea agreement that was reached provided the company would basically absorb the prosecutions and the individuals would not be charged. If you seriously think Rick Scott had no idea his company was stealing from the feds you’re delusional.

      2. Did he even know it was happening, let alone being responsible for it? I have no doubt that Janet Reno would have loved to have crucified another Republican if she could have, QED…

    2. “Our is history is full of great legal minds that learned there profession reading law book and not in law school classes. Including Abraham Lincoln.”

      And John Marshall, if I am not mistaken…

      “In addition, new programs would enable college undergraduates to major in and receive a bachelor’s degree in law.

      This would also eliminate what I consider to be the most fraudulent aspect of the whole system — requiring students to obtain a largely-irrelevant four year degree in hopes that they would then be accepted into a three year law school. And if they aren’t, they are often stuck with a useless (and quite expensive) college degree that is otherwise completely worthless.

      It would be one thing if the students were accepted into the entire seven years up front, like with MA/PhD programs where you can stop at the Master’s level if you wish — but the law schools engage in what is quite high-stakes legalized gambling.

      “Other graduates could complete an accelerated law school program in much less than three years, as occurs in Europe.”

      If it works in Europe — and Europe (Germany) is where we got our model of higher education from — then why wouldn’t it work here?

      1. The other thing is that — traditionally — one could go to night school to become a lawyer. A century later, there is now all kinds of distance learning and the rest.

        One of the things that Ed Reform did was enable people to work in the schools as aides and then work towards teacher certification by taking classes at night. It inevitably takes several years as they are usually only taking one class at the time, but the end they get their certificate.

        Last I checked, the ABA doesn’t permit this — and I always wondered why it wasn’t subject to an ADA challenge…

    3. In case you hadn’t heard, Derek Chauvin is in jail. But to your point, one local defense counsel who frequently commented on the case suggested the police union wouldn’t agree to pay for more than one lawyer (Eric Nelson) and his young associate. By contrast, the state had some top level lawyers working pro bono. (Not that I think the wrong outcome was reached.)

      1. Derek Chauvin choked the life out of a man in a nine minute video. Where would he have been if he had to pay for a lawyer out of pocket. The fact that he got as much defense as he did was because he had access to lawyers. An average person would have been forced into a plea bargain, and would have got bargain quality justice.

  2. Daivd….Where are you? 🙂

    1. I recommend all experts in other fields attend law school. Every turn of the page of every law book was like the shower scene from Psycho. Zinging music, with crazy scary slashing of an innocent person (albeit an adultress who deserved it in Hitchcock’s book).

      This fucking profession has it rigged, as it was taught by the French, 900 years ago. The lawyer bullshit language, the nitpicking, the inscrutable English, the exceptions, and the exceptions to the exceptions are rent seeking, and a crime. This alone justifies the arrests of the 25000 scumbags in the lawyer hierarchy.

      That being said, pro se criminal defendants outperformed the dispshit, worthless defense bar in jury verdicts. They beat the tight cases that are being brought more often. See the outcome in Chauvin. As a pro se, I would have personally attacked that scumbag judge every day. I would have filed a daily complaint with the Judicial Review Board, and used my media platform to try to get rid of the scumbag.

      1. I recommend all law students attend Traffic Court for a half day. Nothing they learned in Criminal Procedure will be seen. Nothing they see will have been covered in Criminal Procedure.

        As is true in all professional educations, you come out and have to ask the secretary how to write a brief. All the skill needed to do the job is acquired over 10000 painful hours of practice. Why waste 3 years and $300000 if that is the case. Apprenticeship for low pay would be better.

        If I wanted to become a lawyer, I would apprentice to an aggregate claim shop. I would try to reverse the immunity of states from its own citizens, to return to the original meaning of the Eleventh Amendment. I would seek to defund this horrible government and to thus shrink it.

        1. If I wanted to become a lawyer,

          …you would first need to find some way to fool the character & fitness people.

      2. You are hilarious. You’re like the Bill Hicks, if BIll Hicks didn’t know anything about anything.

        1. Steve, aren’t you a lawyer d-word?

          1. demigod?

            I mean, I’m flattered but… I think your praise is too effusive.

        2. And if Bill Hicks hadn’t been funny.

  3. Why even have a bar exam at all?

    Just let people put up a sign that says Attorney At Law and off you.
    And with sites like Yelp and Angies list which are impossible to game/sock-puppet etc, I’m sure the market will swiftly weed out the incompetent lawyers ans scammers.

    1. At one time, I took the libertarian position that anyone who wants to practice law should be permitted to do so, as long as the clients were aware of his qualifications. I’ve since come to see just how much damage incompetent legal representation can do, up to and including being executed for crime, and no longer think that.

      Sure, there are plenty of incompetent attorneys who really did go to law school, pass the bar, and still don’t know what they’re doing. But with no standards, it would be far, far worse.

    2. Bar exam = members of a guild. This is what you’re admitting to. You passed a test, therefore you’re “qualified”.

      1. Bar exam = members of a guild. This is what you’re admitting to. You passed a test, therefore you’re “qualified”.

        Yes — you passed a test to that indicates a base level of competency so you have qualified.

        I prefer going to doctors who have some sort of accreditation whether that’s a medical license or a medical degree from a reputable school or something…rather than some dude who decides to put up a sign that says “doctor” and just hoping for the best.

        That this is objectionable is a big reason why so few sentient people can take libertarians seriously.

        I know that in libertopia, the “correct” solution is to let anyone do what they want and then when you get fucked over by your scammer “professional” then you should go to court and sue or some shit, but in the real world, most people don’t want to get burned and seek try and seek recourse…they want to minimize the odds of getting burned to begin with.

        The idea that the only thing we should do is punish bad actors after the fact rather than try and prevent bad actors from being able to act maliciously to begin with is inherently stupid.

        An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure after all…

        1. Which is why there is a certification system. The whole point is that people can seek out the skill they request for a certain job. I am not sure why your concerns can’t be addressed with a certification system.

    3. “Why even have a bar exam at all? “

      I ask the same question from a different approach — *if* the JD is so important and so relevant to practicing law, then how could anyone who ever graduated from law school ever flunk it?

      Remember that no one is talking about eliminating the bar exam, only changing the restrictions on who is permitted to take it.

      1. “only changing the restrictions on who is permitted to take it”

        You can still “read law” in a few states and take the bar exam. Kim Kardasian is supposedly doing so.

        More states doing so would be fine.

    4. One only has to look at the “Sovereign Citizens” and QAnon movement (s?) to see what self-taught lawyering can lead to.

      1. One only has to look at the Kraken litigation to see what law-school training can lead to.

  4. I’m dubious about this premise. I remember less than a decade ago the big thing in the lawyer field is that the law schools had pumped out too many new lawyers and it suddenly was losing its position as a career to make wealth like doctors or engineers.

    1. My wife is a civil engineer, and maybe some engineers make good money. Others do not. I mean, she’s doing fine, but not awesome.

      It seems to me that the problem isn’t supply of lawyers. If it were, all lawyers would be able to be full-time lawyers. Many are not and have to get out of the profession. Or the are part lawyer, part something else.

      Instead, it seems the high cost of legal services is the time involved. We have newer associates who don’t bill at rates not all that much higher than your average mechanic or plumber. But a clogged sink can be fixed in an hour. A lawsuit can take a team of people each working hundreds or even thousands of hours. You want to make more legal services available? Streamline the process of getting to answers. It’s the time involved that drives up cost.

  5. From my vantage point the problem with our judicial system is that it has become a “black box” of sorts. You stick something into it and based upon past experience expect a particular result and then get something completely different. Then despite a system that is supposed to produce similar results to similar facts, you get varying final products. To some degree any human system is going to have this feature, but the courts seem to be more “random” then the system ever intended.

    I was advised on two insurance cases back in the 2000’s. Similar fact pattern, same jurisdiction, same policy, almost identical with a few minor exceptions. The difference though was the judge to which he case was assigned.

    One judge was of the opinion all insurance claims that go to suit are fraudulent because insurance companies will always settle good faith claims. Despite a jury verdict in the plaintiff’s favor, the judge vacated the award and it took the appellate court to clean it all up (about 7 years after suit was filed too).

    The second case was completely opposite. The judge leaned heavily on the insurance company to settle, which it did not want to do. When it came close to trial time the judge made it known that his desired outcome was settlement and if he had to waste a week presiding over a bench trial it was not going to end well for the defense. No one was surprised when the insurance company finally gave in.

    There is no easy fix to this and maybe that is just the nature of the beast. But if you talk to most practitioners who handle the real meat and potato cases that trial courts deal with every day they will tell you they have no clue what to expect these days whereas 20 years ago they felt much different.

    1. I agree — we have a problem with judges.

      As Boston’s Howie Carr is fond of saying, it’s 98% of Massachusetts judges that make the other 2% look bad…

    2. From my vantage point the problem with our judicial system is that it has become a “black box” of sorts.

      I also think there is a pervasive corruption in that if you get a lawyer who has connections within the system you can have much better outcomes than someone with an unconnected lawyer.

      I know of many circumstances where by paying the right amount to a high profile attorney, they can get problems to go away that a joe schmo attorney wouldnt be able to

  6. this is absurd proposal to a very real problem. the marketplace does not assure competence, just low rates and a race to the bottom. Just look at Florida where patients are usually forced to be seen by “physician assistants” while doctors run multiple offices.
    The solution to low access is to create financial subsidies to law students who want to do this work so they dont have large law school debt or financial support for legal non-profit organizations. paralegals could prepare routine paperwork but lawyers need to review the work.

    1. The solution is providing an adequate level of service for the legal option needs of client. If you have a small claims case then you don’t need a $300/hr lawyer who has experience arguing class action lawsuits. But in many jurisdictions that is your only option since the paralegal is not allowed to “practice” law. Same goes for many day-to-day legal needs. Minor criminal offenses, most divorces, run of the mill torts, and many others just don’t need a lawyer who went to school for 7 years to get them through the system.

      The problem with the PA example you use is that the system now forces people to go through that layer even when it is clear to a reasonable person they need a specialist or more advanced care. But truth be told 95% of the time most patients only need the PA level of care. (And maybe you forgot or just weren’t around when this was not an option and getting an appointment with your actual doctor was a huge process because there was no other “lower end” option available…)

      1. Actually in most states you don’t need a lawyer for small claims court. The rules of evidence often don’t apply, and since the appeals are de novo you can’t really mess yourself up too badly representing yourself on a small claim.

        1. There is a big difference between “need” and “preferred” in any system. One thing that small claims courts don’t let you do (at least in no jurisdiction I am familiar with) is have someone who is not a lawyer act as your counsel.

          1. Nor should they. That idiot doesn’t know any more than you do.

            1. Why not?

              That person might know more. And even if they don’t … again the issue is comparative advantage. Sure, I could spend all this this time making a case for myself … but I might be a professional at another field and would rather work at that. Someone else can represent me, even if they are just as bright or even dumber.

              Most comments here don’t really grasp comparative advantage. Even if I could get a better outcome representing myself (and the studies do not support that premise at all) there are many many cases where I would want to hire someone else.

              Not even for professionals. If I am poor, and cannot skip my job because I need the money, having to spend time defending myself in small claims is dumb, and it actively hinders my advancement. I might want to get external assistance, even if I know that assistance will be just as good or worse if I did it myself

            2. Not everyone is a good public speaker. Nor is everyone good at arguing his own case — remember the saying about the lawyer who represents himself?

            3. Nor should they. That idiot doesn’t know any more than you do.

              Well that’s quite the assumption. That idiot might know plenty more than I do.

        2. This is correct. Lawyers are actually discouraged in small claims court. The issue is that small claims court rally does have to be small (less that $15,000 in my jurisdiction). Many disputes easily go over that (or have a plaintiff who thinks it goes over that).

      2. Actually, in some states, including mine, the “limited scope engagement” is now ethical. That is, lawyers can now advise and even ghostwrite for small claims litigation without having to show up in court. I have to say that my most pleasurable piece of litigation was such an engagement in a 2k roommate dispute based on a disputed contract made by a series of emails–almost a Contracts 101 exam question. The other side also had a “limited scope” attorney, and their theory was that no contract had been formed. I spent maybe 20 minutes on the phone with the guy, told him how to win, and got paid $75 on paypal. When he won I was ecstatic. Part of it, I suppose was that unlike most litigation, it didn’t take years to find out if my reasoning was a winner, there was no mixed bag of some wins and losses on motions, and that it was a clean win–since most litigation ends up being settled.

    2. Well… in the case of PA’s at clinics in Florida (having been a Floridian, married to a medical professional, who went to a clinic in Tampa and saw a PA…) I wouldn’t be too quick to write them off. I think they get a raw deal when it comes pay for their skills, but a PA was, at that time, for more likely to be younger and have more recently left medical school and be far more up-to-date on medical practice. Older doctors don’t always learn new and better ways of doing things. A PA might just provide better care.

      1. Either way, all that happens in a doctor’s office is that someone in a white coat reads a bunch of questions off a laptop screen and keys in your answers. Then someone else comes in and says ‘everything looks good, have there been any changes?’ no matter the answer, they key in something else and say bye-bye.
        I could do that myself in a third the time. The real “expertise” is in the computer programmed to follow the federal guidelines no matter what.
        In the past three years I have had maybe 20 minutes of eye contact in a doctors office, mostly with the ‘billing expert’.

    3. Some people would characterize a regime where people see lower-cost physicians assistants for problems that don’t really require a doctor as an improvement over one where only a doctor can do anything.

      Same with nurse practitioners.

  7. These articles (depending on perspective) disappoint greatly, or never fail to disappoint a low expectation. This sort of “hey more access is good no matter how awful that access is is good, so getting rid of regulation is good” article relies on accepting a number of absurd premises as axioms and refusing to examine any of its underlying assertions.

    First, lets look at this assertion “The evidence from Washington, DC, which permits an Alternative Business Structure with nonlawyer ownership of a law firm, does not indicate that nonlawyer owners have pressured lawyers into ethics violations.” first off, what evidence? did you personally speak to lawyers who work for non-lawyers to ask the extent that they are pressured into unethical positions? Why would you believe someone who is dependent on their paycheck to tell you the truth even if you did? what study do you rely on? what safeguards were in place?

    Let’s move to the absurd position that you can tell a lawyer’s quality from yelp reviews “Market forces have created websites, such as Angie’s List and Yelp, as well as social media platforms, which can accurately inform consumers about the quality, reputation, and performance of a broad range of service providers. Similar websites, such as AVVO and Martindale-Hubble, currently exist for lawyers. Others would proliferate, offering even more detailed information about legal service providers for a larger, more discerning, and more heterogenous volume of consumers.”

    Let’s be honest about something. The client is, sadly, usually unqualified to judge the representation. A client who has an accurate notion of where his case would come out at trial can settle his case without an attorney in the first place. Satisfaction with the outcome is related to how it met the client’s expectation (regardless of how reasonable that expectation is) and thus is more a reflection of an attorney’s ability to manage expectation, rather than provide a good result.

    Yelp is fine for finding a new pizza place. Most people accept that those reviews can give an indication of quality but they really need to try the pizza for themselves. The downside of getting a bad pizza is you spent 20 bucks and didnt enjoy your pizza. the downside of getting a bad lawyer is you spent 20,000 dollars and you go to prison forever. your system suggests that only charismatic shitty lawyers who grind out cases with bad results in little time will thrive, and uncharismatic good lawyers who take lots of time but aren’t great at selling the deal to the client will starve.
    The problems with this approach are most easily shown with some basic estate issues. First, nobody is in a position to say how well their attorney did their estate planning until they die, and everything either goes smoothly or goes to hell. Secondly, take a piece of common advice (from crap lawyers) about probate “avoiding probate is the highest goal ever and should be done no matter what, so you should transfer your house to your kids and yourself now, as joint tenants with rights of survivorship”

    That sounds like great advice. yelp review “my lawyer helped me avoid 10s of thousands of dollars of probate costs! i know because he told me!” then the reality sets in. as this was a gift in the course of the lifetime there’s no stepped up basis on death and the government gets a huge tax on the heirs when they sell. Instead a life estate should have been retained so there’s stepped up basis on death. Your client doesn’t know that and can’t include it in the yelp review.

    1. Your claim that the client is unqualified to judge representation is patronizing and pretty obviously wrong. Is it harder than judging a pizza place? Sure. But everything you describe applies equally to doctors. Procedures are expensive and you won’t know the outcome until years after you make the decision to buy. Outcomes are uncertain and at least partially beyond the professional’s control. Nevertheless, I can tell you within a 10 min conversation whether a doctor has an adequate bedside manner and will be a good fit for me and my problem. And after the fact, I can certainly write up valid criticisms of their practice of medicine in my particular case.

      The same is true for a plumber, an electrician, an employer or almost anyone else. Yet we somehow manage to evaluate and share information about those professionals without any of the parade of horribles you allege.

      Your defense of the status quo is coming across and reflexive and strident. Will there be some bad reviews? Of course there will. Will there be quacks? Obviously. The question is whether there will be fewer irresponsible lawyers than there are today. Markets may not be perfect at assigning accountability but they can’t be any worse than the current system of protectionism.

      1. Two things. 1) your determination of bedside manner is important in that it is good to feel comfortable with your doctor but you’re not really qualified to figure out if he knows how to cure your cancer or not just because you like him and 2) to the extent you want the market involved because of yelp reviews it already is. The market is already involved and it already does a demonstrably poor job of helping people figure out whether a lawyer is good or not.

        Let’s not pretend that there aren’t lawyer reviews already. Lets not pretend that those reviews are all that helpful.

        Again, I don’t really benefit from the system because i’m a “public servant” and my pay isn’t really impacted by this. It is low, and it will always be low. I don’t do this for the money I do it because I enjoy it. I would continue to do it after de-regulation and I would continue to make the same crap wage I make now.
        The reality of legal practice is that aside from the bar exam, there is no regulation. The courts and the disciplinary boards have already adopted your libertarian paradise. Try to get a lawyer disbarred some time. I say this with supreme confidence : Absent stealing client money there is almost no action reprehensible enough for a court or disciplinary board to get off its ass and censure an attorney.

        If i ate a live baby on TV i *might* get a strongly worded letter advising me not to discriminate against the young. maybe.

        1. No one said we cannot be more strict with disbarring people. We probably ought to be.

          The economic evidence behind licensing regimes is fairly evident, in all industries, quality largely remains the same, costs decrease dramatically, efficiency improves. You do wind up with somewhat more quacks. The evidence says that too. But there are a lot more effective regimes to weed those people out.

          1. if you deregulate you can’t disbar, because there’s no requirement to be barred.

            1. You couldn’t disqualify an incompetent lawyer from practicing, but the bar association could still give him the boot, and at least some clients will insist on a credentialed lawyer even when the law doesn’t require it.

            2. “if you deregulate you can’t disbar, because there’s no requirement to be barred.”

              Bullbleep. The trucking industry was deregulated and a whole lot more truckers are losing their licenses (i.e. “disbarred”) than ever were in the past.

              1. Bullbleep. The trucking industry was deregulated and a whole lot more truckers are losing their licenses (i.e. “disbarred”) than ever were in the past.

                Don’t truckers REQUIRE a State approved a CDL license that requires the STATE to issue a test and decide if you are qualified???

                1. “Don’t truckers REQUIRE a State approved a CDL license that requires the STATE to issue a test and decide if you are qualified???

                  No — CDLs did not exist before 1988, while trucking deregulation started with the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, signed by Jimmy Carter. The CDL law mandated that the trucker get only one CDL in his home state, issued by that state, but subject to Federal criteria and rules.

                  Prior to that, a trucker could get a license in as may states as he wished, and when one got suspended, continue to drive on the rest. (There now is a Federal clearinghouse in, I believe, Missouri.)
                  There were no drug tests, nor physical examination requirements.

                  There were no DOT Numbers (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/do-i-need-usdot-number) but trucks often had a half dozen license plates on them.

        2. You are missing the point that a doctor with poor bedside manner probably can’t cure me. The same is true of a lawyer who won’t take the time to explain things to her client. Communication skills, and more importantly, the recognition that communication is important, is a pretty vital distinguisher of good vs bad lawyers and doctors.

          1. That is a non-sequitur. Communication skills do not heal the sick. It is a little more true for lawyers, but being charismatic doesn’t mean you can accurately assess a case and its merits, lacking them does not mean you can’t.

          2. You are missing the point that a doctor with poor bedside manner probably can’t cure me.

            The point isnt being missed…the point is incorrect and wrong.

            Some of the best surgeons in the world have the worst bed-side manner. In fact, quite often, the more talented / elite the physician the worse the bedside manner is.

            Look at Orthopedic surgeons…the high profile ones barely even talk to their patient…they don’t care how you are feeling, what your are worried about etc….they are there to cut and repair and thats what they do.

        3. “If i ate a live baby on TV i *might* get a strongly worded letter advising me not to discriminate against the young. maybe.”

          As the quality of the bar is so abysmally low already, how could this possibly lower it?

    2. “Most people accept that those reviews can give an indication of quality but they really need to try the pizza for themselves. The downside of getting a bad pizza is you spent 20 bucks and didnt enjoy your pizza.”

      No, the downside of getting a bad pizza is that you are in a bodybag.

      Or at least very sick. And the reason why this doesn’t happen that frequently (anymore) in this country is that there is a state, county, or local health inspector who licenses the pizza joint and inspects the pizza joint and — sometimes — shuts down the pizza joint.

      It’s like the bar exam — you gotta pass your initial inspection before you can open, and then there are periodic inspections you gotta pass as well (which lawyers don’t have to). Sure, the pizza may taste like cardboard, but it’s not full of botulism….

    3. Yelp is fine for finding a new pizza place.

      It’s not even good a that. Let’s skip over the fact that what each person considers positive vs negative is so subjective as to be meaningless…..

      As long as the Yelp’s of the world are offering to suppress negative reviews if you subscribe to their service, the reviews are bullshit.

      And as long as merchants can bribe people for good reviews, then the reviews are worthless.

      Amazon is struggling with this right now…..about half their reviews are fake, or are paid for — “give me a good review and I will refund the purchase price” is a very common way of new sellers getting good reviews and making customers think “wow this must be a reputable seller…look at all the 5 star reviews”

      1. This is another huge weakness in the “reviews will weed out the bad” argument. You’re 100 percent correct.

      2. A thinking person would look at the distribution of ‘stars’ in most review sites and wonder why they are 90% or more the highest classification.
        Do all reviewers live in Lake Woebegone?
        I have NEVER seen a site where reviews followed the expected bell curve.

  8. Also
    “Critics also assert that deregulation of lawyers is tantamount to advocating that doctors should not have to go to medical school, complete residency training, and obtain a license to practice medicine. As noted, no one would have to hire a lawyer who did not go to law school or pass a bar examination. Those who did would undoubtedly require credible evidence that the legal service provider was competent to perform the desired legal service.”

    I note you don’t address this argument or distinguish it. That’s because 1) you know its not distinguishable and 2) you acknowledge it in the hopes of brushing past it.

    Nobody would “have to hire” an eye doctor that didn’t go to medical school either if we de-regulated medicine. Maybe after a few yelp revies of “hey, lost my eye” those business would shut down? I mean…what’s a few eyes in the name of some absurd ivory tower economic theory right?

    1. I am not addressing medical rent seeking. It is 10 times bigger, 10 times more deadly, and 10 times more criminal than lawyer rent seeking. However, all medications with a high therapeutic index (high lethal dose/low therapeutic dose) should be over the counter for anyone to use. These prescription privileges are a criminal racket. I have no problem arresting the medical hierarchy, too, for their crimes against humanity.

      1. you’re not really who those comments are addressed to unless you’re also Clifford.

    2. I know you will not understand this. Why? You are a rent seeking lawyer d-word.

      Nothing you learn in any professional school is of any use in practice. Nothing in practice is taught in professional schools. They are a worthless scam.

      Does a 12 week rotation in a medical school prepare you in any way to do plastic surgery on your own, or ophthalmology? It prepares you for nothing. An Army medic with field experience would be far more useful to an injured person. You have to spend 10000 hours doing plastics, then you are barely qualified to do it on your own, and will be taught so much by your patients. 10 years later, you will be pretty good. Why waste 4 years of med school, and $400000 in loans, except as fraudulent initiation ritual?

      The massive fraud is by educators for their worthless rent seeking jobs.

      1. I did not learn how to write a motion in law school. That is accurate. A change in regulation is a lot different than deregulation.

        Law schools need to change? i’m behind that. Courts actually need to enforce the rules and not let crap attorneys be crap? also behind that. “throw open the profession for every moron who thinks they know better?” not so much.

    3. I’m guessing that nobody addressed it because it’s a silly strawman.

      First, lots of people seek medical treatment from people who never do not have licenses to practice medicine. Some are quacks (and everyone says that’s your own fault for picking them) but some are quite good and provide adequate care despite the lack of licensing. Midwives are (in many jurisdictions) a terrific example of that.

      With very few exceptions, nobody should need a lawyer to write a routine contract. Anyone with attention to detail and a basic understanding of English is just as capable. You might still want to hire a contracts expert – but that should be a choice you make based on risk and circumstances, not a decision forced on you by a cartel.

      Second, your argument ignores the rather long judicial history of apparently adequate representation before the imposition of mandatory certifications. We went centuries letting people choose their own representatives. The world did not end and justice was generally well served – at least, no more imperfectly that it still is today.

      1. its not a strawman its reducto ad absurdem. The underlying premise is “barriers to entry reduce entry. additional entry is unquestionably good.”

        that premise, taken to its logical conclusion, is that deregulation of any industry is thus similarly good. Therefore deregulation of medicine is also good.

        Most people can’t distinguish between straw man and reducto ad absurdem. It’s a common failing.

        Also the complexity of the law in prior eras was significantly less. it used to be that most law could be found in a few books. Now its a few thousand books. It’s like saying that because a man used to be able to work on his car in the 70s without fancy computers, fancy computers must also not be needed today.

        1. It’s a strawman because that’s not the underlying premise. The underlying premise is “Additional entry can be less bad.” It’s a strawman because you assume without ever saying so that the compensating controls that work in other professions that have been deregulated will somehow not appear in the context of lawyers. Your argument may be absurd but it’s not reducto ad absurdem.

          1. it is not “can be” less bad it is “is unquestionably less bad because the invisible hand of the marketplace will cure all ills” without any explanation as to why other industries might be different. if he had distinguished medicine somehow after mentioning it i’d agree it’s a strawman based on the distinguishing. He did not. he rather pointedly did not.

        2. “Also the complexity of the law in prior eras was significantly less. it used to be that most law could be found in a few books. Now its a few thousand books. It’s like saying that because a man used to be able to work on his car in the 70s without fancy computers, fancy computers must also not be needed today.”

          It’s not a few thousand books but one notebook computer.

          And as to cars, we have “right to repair” laws and if you have the intelligence to do it, it’s way easier to work on a car now than it was in the 1970s. It’s all error codes, e.g. “#4 spark plug misfiring” — often you have to figure out *why* you are getting the error codes, but post 2000 cars are much easier to work on.

    4. “Nobody would “have to hire” an eye doctor that didn’t go to medical school either if we de-regulated medicine.

      What you may or may not realize is that *any* doctor can legally perform eye surgery, but I wouldn’t go to one who didn’t have a whole lot more qualifications after his name than just MD…

      Frank Burns on MASH was modeled after a character in the book, who was modeled after a real general practitioner who got drafted. Who wasn’t a very good surgeon — although a friend’s older sister who saw the real Hawkeye perform surgery wasn’t impressed with his, either.

  9. I think the key is there’s a middle level of cases that are too big for small claims but too small to justify expensive lawyers. I wrote about the problem here and suggested the legal system create something analogous to a nurse-practitioner that can handle these sorts of matters at lower cost:

    https://dilanesper.substack.com/p/the-legal-system-is-too-expensive

    1. There are lawyers who charge prices that are reasonable for cases in excess of 12k that don’t require Clarence Darrow. There’s actually a ton of them already. Their hourly rates are not much different than a paralegal.

      1. You can’t litigate a case in the Los Angeles metropolitan area through trial for $12,000. Let’s say you get a lawyer who charges on the low end. $300 an hour. That’s 40 hours. Taking a couple of depositions will get you there (plus you have to pay the videographers!). Hiring an expert can easily get you there. Opposing a couple of motions can get you there.

        I don’t throw up my hands and say “deregulate the field” the way OP does, but you seem to have a hope that reality could just be the way you want it so you wouldn’t have to consider that maybe, professional licensing of lawyers creates a system so expensive that at least in certain parts of the country, large swaths of the population are shut out. But that happens to be true. It’s true in LA. I’m sure it’s true in New York and San Francisco too.

        At least in these expensive urban areas, we need another tier.

        1. the 12k is the limit on small claims. it’s about the size of the case not the cost of the representation.

          1. My point is, where you are dead is with a $50,000 claim. It’s well above the small claims limit, and way too small to take to trial with lawyers. So you end up forced to settle at a pretty low settlement. It sucks.

            We need a mechanism to get those people cheaper representation. And that most likely means something other than 7 years of college.

            1. I represented quite a few clients in sub-50k cases. I’m not sure why you think that doesn’t happen all the time. It does happen all the time. every day, in every courtroom across America, sub 50k cases are prosecuted by lawyers for prices that their clients are willing to pay.

              1. In Los Angeles, you can’t bring a sub-50k case of any complexity to trial at a cost effective rate. So most of them settle. Obviously, lawyers represent people in these cases, but it isn’t cost-effective to try them.

            2. “We need a mechanism to get those people cheaper representation. And that most likely means something other than 7 years of college.”

              AGREED!!!

              And what I don’t see Wakefield defending is the first four years of college.

              1. No, I’m fully behind the notion that a law degree should be a bachelors.

    2. Does changing the American rule and awarding attorney’s fees to successful litigants move the needle at all?

  10. I don’t see much here except standard libertarian boilerplate – eliminate regulation and the market will produce Eden.

    The current high prices for legal services that reduce demand and the barriers to legal practice that reduce supply suggest that 1.3 million US lawyers are too few, not too many, and help explain why the United States ranks below other countries in terms of the accessibility and affordability of civil legal services.

    Since the US seems to be second, behind only Israel, in lawyers per capita, it will take quite a lot to prove that we have too few. Maybe the lack of accessibility and affordability of civil legal services is due to other causes.

    It seems strange to me that we read about law school graduates unable to make a living at the same time that many who need legal services can’t afford them. There is a gap here that the market clearly is not fixing, and giving out BA’s in Law won’t help.

    I think Winston has misidentified the problem. There are lots of people around who are more qualified to provide legal services than the new providers he assumes would appear under deregulation, but they aren’t doing it. The likeliest explanation is that they can’t make a living practicing law, because the fees they could earn are inadequate. Adding more providers is unlikely to change that.

    IOW, the supply problem is not a lack of personnel, but a lack of personnel willing to do the work for the available fees. Remember that the supply curve does not tell us what the physical supply of a good is, it tells us how much is available at a given price.

    1. This is fairly accurate. Part of the reason there’s not a genuine demand for low cost representation is that people who want low cost representation generally do not have assets to protect. Even if low cost representation were available they wouldn’t avail themselves of it. I’m not paying you 300 dollars to avoid a 2000 dollar judgment that I have no intention of paying and no assets that can be seized to pay it.

    2. One reason you have people who won’t do the work at the available fees is because you are required to do seven years of college, including three at an insanely expensive law school, to practice law. So salaries have to be high enough to compensate for this, which means billing rates go way up.

      So yes, a second tier with lower education requirements could reduce costs.

      1. Dilan,

        One reason you have people who won’t do the work at the available fees is because you are required to do seven years of college, including three at an insanely expensive law school, to practice law.

        But those are sunk costs for the people who already have law degrees, and there seem to be a lot of them. So again, ISTM that there are plenty of people who could do the work and have the credentials.

        The problem is not a lack of lawyers, it’s a lack of lawyers willing to work for the fees that underserved potential clients will pay. If you aren’t producing as many widgets as buyers claim to want, yet lots of widget factories are idle, the solution is not to expand the factories. Physical supply is not the problem.

        1. There are a lot of doctors who don’t want to work with underserved patients. And yet people are clamoring for skilled nurse and nurse practitioner jobs to work with them.

          So even if the costs are sunk, they affect people’s willingness to do the work.

          1. Are there a lot of medical school graduates who can’t find jobs as doctors? I don’t think so. The reason they don’t work for low fees is that they have better opportunities as doctors. Yet there do seem to be law school grads who can’t find work as lawyers. So the analogy is not quite accurate.

            Now, I don’t know exactly what the issue is. What do these non-lawyer J.D.’s end up doing? Do they find jobs that are more lucrative than whatever they could earn being low-fee lawyers? I guess so. If that’s the case, has law school helped them, somehow, get those jobs, or are they relying on other skills, maybe their undergraduate training?

            If the latter, then what is the attraction of a BA in Law? Is there so much mindless legal work to be done that doing it will be seen as an attractive career?

            And BTW, specialized nurses and nurse practitioners are pretty well-paid, and becoming an NP, at least, requires post-graduate study. The educational requirement is similar to that needed for a J.D. Where they work with low-income patients it is often as part of a government-funded program, not in private practice.

            1. Having known several young, practicing lawyers, I would hazard a guess that non-monetary costs might be forcing them out of the profession. Newly minted lawyers in big firms can work exceptionally long hours for relatively low pay (when averaged over time worked.)

              I’ve know people who’ve gotten JDs but never taken the bar exam nor ever intended to as well. In their case, they were all in higher ed and the JD was useful for promotion. There are a number of fields where legal knowledge is helpful and a professional degree that isn’t an MBA helps you stand out. (all of which is anecdotal in my case so…YMMV.)

            2. HMO’s use nurses, a lot, precisely because they cost less money than doctors. That doesn’t mean they don’t make good money.

              1. Dilan,

                I’m not getting your point.

                My claim is simple. There are plenty of people who have JD’s and are fully qualified to provide legal services. Yet they are not doing so. At the same time there are a lot of people who need legal help who are not getting it.

                Now, the solution that Winston, and maybe you, propose to the latter problem is to produce yet more individuals who can provide legal services. I maintain that that is no solution at all, because there already are plenty of individuals who can do that. The difficulty is that they can’t do it at prices that potential clients can pay. So simply training more people to do legal work isn’t the answer.

                Now, I might be wrong about the prevalence of unutilized law degrees, but if I’m not then schemes to train yet more people to compete with underempolyed J.D.’s look silly.

        2. “But those are sunk costs for the people who already have law degrees, and there seem to be a lot of them.”

          Taxi medallions were an enormous sunk cost that created a shortage of taxi drivers because they couldn’t afford to rent one. And then along came Uber….

          “The problem is not a lack of lawyers, it’s a lack of lawyers willing to work for the fees that underserved potential clients will pay.”

          Businesses had the same problem after WW-II. It wasn’t a shortage of railroad transportation but unwillingness of the railroads to provide service under terms and conditions that the underserved potential clients would be willing to pay.

          Then technology brought something different — trucks.

          And technology has done something similar to the legal profession. 40 years ago, it was all paper books and half a law degree was learning how to look stuff up. Not now…

    3. “Since the US seems to be second, behind only Israel, in lawyers per capita, it will take quite a lot to prove that we have too few. Maybe the lack of accessibility and affordability of civil legal services is due to other causes.”

      Well, for starters, our legal system is extremely complicated. Most countries it is a lot simpler. We could change that, but both parties would have to agree on stuff nobody agrees on: Gut most tort suits, a more expensive immunity regime, no jury trial all bench, nationwide government supported injury insurance, throw out most of judicial procedure, eliminate the exclusionary rule, forced arbitration, more expansive insurance regulation with mandatory liabilities (no disputes, the statute says pay X you pay X), etc …

      One can complain about too many lawyers, but it is difficult to complain without recognizing the reason we have so many is because the US system is very unique, and having less requires implementing the above steps not a single politican would agree to implement.

      1. Despite Chevron, which most conservatives want to gunt anyhow (including myself!) a lot of things wind up in years long disputes between the agency, the company trying to build something, and the courts, which requires lawyers.

        In the EU, its more like, the agency said you can do it. We did it. The agency says you can’t. You don’t do it. This is problematic because the agency is usually too conservative … but its simple! As opposed to, agency says no, company sues, or agency says yes, some environmental group sues, the judge is a political appointee, appeals, and so on … I’m not saying the EU or other approaches are better, they might be too restrictive. But less lawyers, if that is your goal. I dont think that should be the goal … it could be one of many, but not THE goal.

      2. Arbitration is more costly and problematic for middle class people, and the exclusionary rule is a criminal procedure issue (a different world).

        But definitely, so long as the Seventh Amendment isn’t incorporated, states could experiment with bench trials (as they already do for small claims), and insurance mandates are great (and can couple with liability limitations, as they do in no fault schemes), although they are also politically controversial.

        Nonetheless, there are still going to be situation where middle class people need to prosecute $50,000 claims sometimes. And if lawyers are too expensive, you still have the problem.

      3. Well, for starters, our legal system is extremely complicated. Most countries it is a lot simpler.

        What’s your basis for that claim?

        1. Well, I could give examples. The US is one of very few countries to have such an expansive jury system. In most European countries juries are only available for serious criminal offenses, and even then there is little in the way of void dire we have here, and even then the juries do not ususally need be unanimous for criminal cases.

          The US eminent domain process takes quite a bit of time compared to, say the UK were you have 60 days to file an objection, and the property owner rarely wins the objection anyway.

          Not that something can be done about this really, but in the US you have a lot more jurisdictional issues than other countries, where they don’t have the federalist system.

          Again, I am not saying its a bad thing we have these things. Its just more complex and less efficient. Not necessarily bad.

          The only example I can really think of where its the other way is defamation? I’m far from an expert on this it is just my opinion having looked into the systems of various countries and having lived abroad.

    4. “There are lots of people around who are more qualified to provide legal services than the new providers he assumes would appear under deregulation, but they aren’t doing it. The likeliest explanation is that they can’t make a living practicing law, because the fees they could earn are inadequate. Adding more providers is unlikely to change that.”

      You are missing three major things.

      1: “fees they could earn are inadequate” is a very subjective term, in two dimensions — the amount earned and the amount of effort necessary to earn it. I got out of commercial fishing because it was (in my opinion) too much work for too little money. It wasn’t that I couldn’t earn a living there had I been willing to expend the effort — instead, I chose to do something else.

      2: Non-practicing lawyers do not evaporate — so the question becomes what do they go into that either pays better or (more often) involves less effort. How many of them have family resources that enable them to survive without really working at all?

      The fact that they are unable to do the amount of work required to earn the amount it pays doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t. Someone who would either work for less and/or work harder.

      3: There are a lot of people whose parents essentially buy them a law degree. There are a lot more who are more interested in the “Mrs” degree than the JD degree — she wants to be the wife of a wealthy lawyer, and today the way to do that is be a lawyer yourself. And there are a lot more who would lose money running a lemonade stand.

      Adding more lawyers WILL change this because the lawyers added will be DIFFERENT from these lawyers.

  11. Also, lets talk about “pro bono” it’s actually “pro bono publico” which means free representation in matters of public concern or for the public good.

    How much free work do economists do? (hint. it’s none. its no free work).

    1. I thought pro bono meant “big firms working for producers of the fine arts to impress their well-heeled clients.”

  12. Others who cannot afford legal assistance end up stuck in horrific circumstances, such as domestic violence, that should be criminal matters.

    Can you (or someone else, since you don’t appear to be responding to comments) explain what you’re trying to say here? People don’t generally need lawyers (qualified or otherwise) to report that they’ve been the victim of a crime.

  13. Why didn’t Abe Lincoln have a bunch of law-school student debt?

    1. Because instead of Springfield, Illinois, he gave them a Gettysburg Address.

  14. As anyone who has seen Legally Blond knows, in most states, a law student can actually appear in court as an “intern” under the supervision of a licensed lawyer. Of course if the lawyer has to be present it defeats the cost reduction purpose.

    A category of interns or paralegals could be created who, while under general lawyer supervision, could do depositions or even appear in court by themselves. Limits on size of case maybe or limited to certain types like landlord tenant or both.

    The suggestions in the post are libertarian pie in the sky nonsense that will cause more problems than they solve.

  15. “Critics also assert that deregulation of lawyers is tantamount to advocating that doctors should not have to go to medical school, complete residency training, and obtain a license to practice medicine.”

    They shouldn’t. There’s a lot of ‘practicing medicine’ that doesn’t actually require years of medical education and residency. A lot of common diagnoses and procedures that currently require doctors which could equally be done by registered nurses or even people trained for just a few months on those specific procedures or diagnoses. Doctor time is valuable, and we should be finding ways to get them away from doing things where their expertise isn’t actually required – the current system unnecessarily burdens the medical system, increases costs, and reduces access.

    1. PAs and NPs also make more than $100k. Why? Mostly because getting a reasonably smart person to deal with your problems costs money. There’s a shortage of smart, knowledgeable, conscientious people, and that would only be a little less true if you eliminated licensing requirements.

  16. Unmentioned so I thought I’d bring this up: artificial intelligence, machine learning, knowledge bases.

    The key to low cost legal representation for non-criminal needs can probably be met with an appropriate application of computer technology in a not-dissimilar way as tax accountancy has seen. There are already some boilerplate online legal services. Don’t see why that trend won’t continue.

    1. because who do you sue when it goes wrong?

      1. News flash to lawyers: Things can work, and probably work more, effectively even if you can pin all the blame on some person if things go wrong.

  17. Hiring smart people (engineers, coders, lawyers, doctors, whatever) will cost you a significant amount of money even when there’s no significant barrier to their entry into a market.

    If your goal is reducing legal costs, the most important thing (by far) is reducing how much you need the help of smart people.

    1. If your goal is reducing legal costs, the most important thing (by far) is reducing how much you need the time of smart people.

      FIFY. I like to think of myself as a reasonably smart person, and I could help lots of clients for reasonable fees (to them) if each problem could be solved in 15 minutes. Even if I got to round up to .3.

  18. A basic feature of law, as with medicine, is that doing harm is worse than doing nothing. This makes both law and medicine inherently inefficient by traditional economic standards, and limits – although it does not prevent entirely – changes in the direction of making things more efficient.

    Medicine has created lower-cost allied professions and begun devolving work previously done by doctors on to them. Law could do the same. Arcane rules could be be simplified, standardized, or abolished. The element of gotcha, making things deliberately and unnecessarily complicated so that only those in the know are able to use the secret handshake that gets you in the door, should be stamped out. Legal education could be overhauled and simplified for lawyers, and even more so for allied professionals.

    But I don’t think complete deregulation – completely abolishing education and licensure requirements and let anyone who wants to put up a web site and begin practicing as a lawyer – is the answer.

    One need only look at deregulation of education. What you get from most for-profit universities is not cheaper, better education. What you get is often something that pushes against the legal definition of a swindle, even when it takes care not to actually cross it, taking vast sums of money from students, offering them little of value in return, and sticking them with huge loans and no ability to get the kind of jobs that will pay them back. Just look at Israel’s binary options fiasco – and massive swindle – to see what complete deregulation can lead to. It’s not pretty, and it’s definitely not in the consumer’s interest.

    It is regulation that prevents people from simply taking less knowledgable people’s money and not offering anything in return.

    And no, airlines were not completely deregulated. You can’t just wake up and decide uou want to be a pilot and go out and get a job flying people. Education and licensing requirents for critical professions like piloting were definitely not abolished – although there is a gradation of licenses depending on what the role is.

    And where airlines were deregulated, it was hardly a complete success story. The FAA’s lax oversight, allowing Boeing engineers to write their own safety procedures and test protocols, led directly to the 737 Max fiasco. And we’re still a little bit too close to that disaster for claims of what wonders deregulation did for airlines to go without any skeptical grain of salt.

    Deregulate lawyers the way the FAA did aircraft airworthiness licensure, and expect 737 Max-like disasters to happen.

  19. Just testing comments. Ignore.

Please to post comments