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Welcome to the TOTM Symposium on Unlocking the Law: Deregulating the Legal Profession

Welcome to “Unlocking the Law: Deregulating the Legal Profession.”

Licensing and regulation of lawyers, long questioned by scholars, is emerging as an important public issue.  Legal costs are rising for individuals and firms with increases in litigation and regulation.  These costs tax business growth and entrepreneurship and impede ordinary Americans’ access to the civil justice system.  Meanwhile, the development of new business structures and technologies and significant regulatory moves toward opening up competition for legal services in the UK and elsewhere are forcing policymakers to address lawyer licensing and regulation.   The U.S. is certainly not immune from the economic and other institutional forces nudging toward a reconsideration of existing licensing and regulation regimes.  It is an excellent time to reexamine the costs and benefits of existing and alternative regimes in light of these changes.

The Unlocking the Law Symposium will be running today and tomorrow.  This symposium is designed to start an intellectual dialogue on this topic, bringing together legal scholars and economists with a variety of views and perspectives on the law and economics of the legal profession, regulation, and competition policy.   Just a few of the questions the Symposium will consider are:

  • Should lawyer licensing be abolished?
  • What alternative regulatory approaches or structures should be considered?
  • What would a deregulated market for legal services look like?
  • Does lawyer regulation raise issues different from those of licensing and regulating other professions?
  • Does delegating to lawyers the power to restrict the right to practice law violate the antitrust laws?
  • What are the First Amendment implications of regulating what non-lawyers can say about the law?
  • To what extent can national or global competition alone break down barriers to law practice even without deregulation?
  • What are the implications of deregulation of the profession for law schools?

We encourage both the participants and commenters to keep the discussion going in the comments.  In addition to Larry Ribstein and the other TOTM bloggers, we’re very pleased to announce an excellent list of participants with a variety of perspectives on the complex combination of issues involved with deregulating the law:

  • Hans Bader
  • Benjamin Barton
  • James Cooper
  • Robert Crandall
  • Nuno Garoupa
  • Gillian Hadfield
  • Bill Henderson
  • Dan Katz
  • Renee Newman Knake
  • Bruce Kobayashi
  • George Leef
  • Jon Macey
  • Tom Morgan
  • Walter Olson
  • Richard Painter
  • Eric Rasmusen
  • Eric Talley

Without further ado, lets begin with our first set of posts from Larry Ribstein, Bill Henderson, and Robert Crandall.