Monday, July 18, 2011

Ribstein: Compulsory Licensing of Attorneys is Doomed

Larry Ribstein has been writing about the "death of big law" and other changes in the profession for some time.  This week he is debating compulsory licensing of lawyers at a Federalist Society event in Los Angeles.  Ribstein comments, "This is one of the big regulatory issues of our time.  It’s not just about who makes how much money, but access to justice.  The current system of compulsory licensing for the practice of law is doomed.  The question is not whether it will end, but when and how. "

Gary Rosin comments on the importance of this issue for law schools:

If state licensing, and state licensing (Bar) exams, go the way of the dodo.  What does that do to law schools?  In most states, only graduates of ABA-approved law schools are qualified to take the Bar exam.  With no Bar exam, what happens to the demand for ABA-approved legal education, or to the demand for ABA accreditation?
At that point, formal legal education would be, at best, a matter of branding, of distinguishing a lawyer from mere providers of "servicios notarios."  So, too, would accreditation become a way of branding, with the ABA only one of several law-school accreditors. But would the ABA retain its power if it no longer controlled the gates to the profession?

Book: "First Thing We Do, Let’s Deregulate All the Lawyers"

A new book argues for deregulation of the legal profession.  Check out the description on Marginal Revolution. The book is published by the Brookings Institution.

Josh Blackman comments regarding ABA regulation of the legal profession: "The cartel won’t last long friends. Embrace the change now."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lasting Change in the Legal Profession

I've been posting a variety of news items on on this blog regarding changes in the legal profession that will put pressure on law schools to take measures to increase the value they offer to students (all of interest, of course, to graduates of a non-traditional law school like Oak Brook College of Law).  There will undoubtedly be more to come.  Here's the latest from the ABA Journal:

The golden era is gone, but this is not because the law itself is becoming less relevant. Rather, the sea change reflects an urgent need for better and cheaper legal services that can keep pace with the demands of a rapidly globalizing world. The Great Recession—a catalyst for change—provided an opportunity to re-examine some long-standing assumptions about lawyers and the clients they serve.

Whether BigLaw lawyers, boutique specialists or solo practitioners, U.S. lawyers can expect slower rates of market growth that will only intensify competitive pressures and produce a shakeout of weaker competitors and slimmer profit margins industrywide. Law students will find ever-more-limited opportunity for the big-salary score, but more jobs in legal services outside the big firms. Associates’ paths upward will fade as firms strain to keep profits per partner up by keeping traditional leverage down.

And those who wish to rise above the disruption will have to deal with technology that swallows billable work, a world market that takes the competition international, and a more sophisticated corporate client with vast knowledge available at the click of a mouse.
 More here.