Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Too many lawyers–or not enough?

An op-ed in the New York Times by Clifford Winston of the Brookings Institution proposes doing away with the barriers to entry–namely, law school and the bar exam–to becoming a lawyer:

What if the barriers to entry were simply done away with?
Legal costs would be reduced because non-lawyers, who have not had to make a costly investment in a three-year legal education, would compete with lawyers, who in many states are the only options for basic services like drafting wills. Because they will have incurred much lower costs to enter the field — like taking an online course or attending a vocational school — and can operate as solo practitioners with minimal overhead, these non-lawyers would force prices to fall. The poor would benefit from the lower prices for non-criminal matters, and poor litigants, who might be unrepresented in criminal matters like hearings because they could not afford a lawyer and because of dwindling state legal aid, would be better off.
This is not a new idea, of course. But I thought Mr. Winston stated the case against lawyer regulation rather well.  Any thoughts in response, Mr. Gillette?

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