An excerpt from Max Gardner:
Gillian Hadfield, a “Sidley Austin visiting professor of law” at Harvard,
has written a provocative piece in the Washignton Post. The piece takes aim at the legal industry’s guild system. (HT: ABA Journal)
Her starting point is that too many Americans can’t afford to vindicate their legal rights. Surveys, she writes, show that 30 to 40% of Americanswith legal problems do nothing to resolve them, as compared with just 5% inBritain.
Because the American bar erects massive barriers to entry, including
prohibiting non-lawyers with specialized expertise (housing, immigration,
child custody) from offering legal advice. Also, the U.S. bars non-lawyer
controlled companies from selling legal services, unlike in England, where
starting next year large companies like Tesco (the European equivalent of
Wal-Mart, she writes) will be able to sell legal advice.
“Those facing legal problems in the United States . . . can’t buy what they
need from entrepreneurs or full-service stores like Wal-Mart that now
package low-cost eye exams, insurance, banking and more with their diapers and detergents,” she writes.Lawyers typically argue that barriers to entry are necessary to save consumers from quack legal advice. Hadfield has a counter-argument at theready.
“There’s nothing wrong with ensuring quality of service, but attacks on
innovative providers in the United States go well beyond what can be
justified in a world that looks so much to law to organize everyday life.”
LB’ers, we demand your take on this important issue, which dovetails into
the related gripe that licensed lawyers should be free to practice law in
any state in the country. Many states, of course, require lawyers to pass
their home-state bar exams to practice law in the jurisdiction, an onerous
requirement that trips up many seasoned attorneys, including the likes of
new Quinn Emanuel name partner Kathleen Sullivan.
Max Gardner’s Website: www.maxgardnerlaw.com