Re: LAW: Bar Associations and Monopolies (Was: POL: Reaction to Microsoft Ruling)

From: Zero Powers (
Date: Sun Apr 16 2000 - 20:00:22 MDT

>[My delayed entry into this discussion may be repetitive - apologies in
>In a message dated 4/13/00 12:03:36 AM Central Daylight Time,
> writes:
> > Saying that lawyers have a "monopoly" on the practice of law is like
> > that licensed drivers have a monopoly on driving.
>I don't think so. First, the "barriers to entry" for getting a driver's
>license are pretty low (all you have to do is drive on the freeway to see
>this :-). Second, lots of people drive without licenses. So long as
>careful, you'll never be caught.

There are more than a few cases of people practicing law without a license
for several years without getting caught. That's not much of a distinction
between the two.

While I stand by my original comparison, I would point out that we're not
really talking about the mere practice of law, which *anyone* is allowed to
do, whether or not they have any legal education whatsoever, so long as
one's only client is oneself. But where you cross the line to providing
professional, fiduciary advice to someone else, you are really holding
yourself out to have a minimum of expertise in the field. In which case it
only makes sense that there is some governing/oversight body to make sure
that you do in fact have that minimum level of expertise.

The fact that this body happens to be a state bar association, again, does
not render the practice of law a monopoly. The anti-trust laws are
ostensibly designed to insure fair competition in the marketplace for the
protection of the public. There is certainly a good healthy dose of
competition in the field (just look in your local yellow pages under
"attorneys"). The state bar is designed primarily to insure that those of
you in the legal-services-purchasing public are guaranteed some minimum
level of competence when paying someone who holds himself out as a legal
professional. If you want to save money and/or have an incompetent for an
attorney, you are free to represent yourself.


"I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past"
--Thomas Jefferson

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