[A] rush to open the practice of law to unschooled, unregulated nonlawyers is not the solution. This would cause grave harm to clients. Even matters that appear simple, such as uncontested divorces, involve myriad legal rights and responsibilities. If the case is not handled by a professional with appropriate legal training, a person can suffer serious long-term consequences affecting loved ones or financial security. It also could lead to a violation of the law.
Is this the best that Mr. President can do? This is the same argument used by every single profession that stifles competition through government licensure. Here is a response from the American Society of Interior Designers, claiming that unschooled, unregulated, noninterior decorators are dangerous.
“Every decision an interior designer makes affects the health, safety, and, welfare of the public,” says the American Society of Interior Designers. One group claims to have figures showing that “confusing floor patterns” and other features by unlicensed interior designers cause 11,000 deaths per year.
Sound familiar? It’s almost identical to the ABA’s statement. The very fact that lawyers are so regulated is the reason why low-income people can’t afford them. Regulation is thus the cause not a solution to the problem.
Not every legal problem requires an attorney. Some legal tasks can and should be performed by paralegals—that is why law firms hire them. As someone who has worked with lawyers for over 10 years, I can tell you that 3 years of law school and an ability to pass the bar does not come close to guaranteeing one’s competence. Nor does passing the character and fitness test don one with a sense of integrity.
The ABA’s claim that only regulated and schooled lawyers can be trusted to provide legal services is motivated by self—not public—interest; the Cartel is just not willing to share its golden pot with anyone else, especially unlicensed paralegals.
But the ABA does have a solution to how low-income individuals can gain access to an attorney and therefore access to justice.
The A.B.A. believes that more funding is needed for legal assistance for the poor. The Legal Services Corporation, which provides core funding for the legal aid system, deserves the full appropriation ($450 million) proposed by the president.
That’s right, everyone needs to pay for poor people to have lawyers. What we need is not cheaper lawyers or the ability of paralegals to perform legal services. What we need is more taxpayer-funded legal organizations to provide legal aid. Can you believe the cojones on this guy?
And he’s not done. He finishes with:
Addressing the justice gap requires all segments of society, not lawyers alone, to shoulder responsibility. Nothing is more precious than our freedom, and that comes from access to justice. We must expand legal services for those in need, provided by first-rate trained lawyers.
I agree with him that justice requires nonlawyers to shoulder some of the responsibility, which is exactly why paralegals should be allowed to perform some of the easier and routine aspects of legal practice. That is a better answer than requiring everyone to give their hard-earned money to legal aid organizations that are needed primarily because the ABA Cartel has artificially raised prices for legal services—by stifling competition—to begin with.
The ABA has taken some criticism in recent months over their regulation of law schools (see Above the Law, here, here, here and here). Now it seems like they can’t come up with even a sensible solution to the problem of equal access.
So tell me again, why do we need the ABA?