An Economics Perspective on the Legal Profession and the Case for Fundamental Reform” – Reason.com

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An Economics Perspective on the Legal Profession and the Case for Fundamental Reform” – Reason.com

I’m excited to report that Clifford Winston of the Brookings Institution is guest blogging this week on Trouble at the Bar: An Economic Perspective on the Legal Profession and the Case for Fundamental Reform, co-authored with David Burk and Jia Yan. Here is the editor’s summary:

Deregulation of the legal profession will benefit society by improving access to legal services and the effectiveness of public policies.

Lawyers dominate a judicial system that has come under fire for limiting access to its services primarily to the wealthiest members of society. Lawyers are ubiquitous in other parts of the government as well. This is the first book to provide a critical comprehensive overview of the role of the legal profession in not serving the majority of the public and contributing to the formation of inefficient public policies that degrade the common good.

In Trouble at the Bar, the authors use an economic approach to empirically support legal reformers who are concerned about their own jobs. The authors highlight the detrimental effects of self-regulation in the legal profession, which increases the cost of legal training, decreases the supply of lawyers, and restricts public access to justice to the point that, in general, only certified lawyers can perform even simple contracts . At the same time, entry barriers that restrict competition create a closed environment that prevents valid approaches to analyzing and resolving legal problems that are at the heart of effective public policy.

Deregulating the legal profession, according to the authors, would allow more people to provide a variety of legal services without compromising their quality, reduce the cost of those services, encourage competition and innovation in the private sector, and improve the quality of lawyers to improve careers in the public sector. Legal professionals would enjoy a more fulfilling career, and society in general, and its most vulnerable members in particular, would benefit greatly.

And the blurb:

“Trouble at the Bar is an extraordinary book. It examines and analyzes – with great conceptual and empirical sophistication – the organization of the entire US legal system and the lawyers who employ it, from the dreams of students who choose to study law Lower-rated schools for attorneys working in the attorney general’s office choose the attorneys at the Supreme Court themselves. Everyone in America should understand the workings of the legal profession at some level. Problems at the bar are the basis for that understanding. “- George L. Priest, Edward J. Phelps Professor of Law and Economics, Yale Law School

Trouble at the Bar takes an empirical look at the state of the legal profession in the United States. It examines the barriers to regulation of entry by law schools and restrictions on legal service providers. It makes a compelling case for deregulating many aspects of the profession and opening up to new approaches. It is a serious book on a serious problem and deserves a careful read. “- Jame J. Heckman, Henry Schultz Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago; Research Associate, American Bar Foundation

I am very much looking forward to the contributions.