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Lawyer Undersupply? Barriers To Entry Protect Idiot Consumers Of Legal Services Too.

If you want to go to law school but can’t get into an ABA-accredited one, something is wrong with you. Sorry. Maybe you were raped by a scantron sheet when you were young or a freak boating accident left you unable to read brochures, but something is not right if you can’t get into law school but really want to.

And I really don’t care if you had some kind of culturally difficult upbringing or have some kind of trumped-up attention disorder or if you are a deaf-freaking-mute, because I’m sure that intelligent abused orphaned deaf-mutes suffering from ADHD with Daddy issues can easily get into accredited law schools, given the totally minimum barriers to entry into such programs. You have to fill out some forms and take a multiple choice exam without scoring significantly worse than random chance, and you’re in!

A while ago, The Economist came out with an article that we’re just circling back to now. It talked about a book written by Clifford Winston and Robert Crandall, of the Brookings Institution, and Vikram Maheshri, of the University of Houston, in which they argue that there is actually an undersupply of American attorneys, due to the stiff barriers to entry into the profession.

I’m not sure that these guys understand that the barriers to entry — such as they are — aren’t just there to protect lawyer salaries. Lawyers are trying to protect the consumers of legal services too…

Look, I’m not saying that having a great LSAT score or a solid college GPA means that you will be a good lawyer. I’m really not saying that. PLEASE DO NOT SAY dumb crap like “Elie thinks only people with good LSAT scores make good lawyers,” because I do not think that.

What I am saying is that doing the things you need to do in order to get into an accredited law school and eventually become a practicing attorney is one important indication that you might not be a mouth-breathing retard who should never be trusted with a sensitive matter. It’s not foolproof system. People slip through the cracks all the time. But the suggestion that there shouldn’t be anything standing in the way of a potential imbecile and a career in the law-talkin’ business is just gross.

Let’s not forget just how little it takes to become a practicing attorney. From the Economist:

Three supply barriers bulk largest. The American Bar Association accredits law schools, and in most states you must be a graduate of one of them to practise law…

The second hurdle for a would-be lawyer is the bar exam itself…

Finally, American states do not allow non-lawyers to manage or invest in law firms, nor can companies not run by lawyers practise law in any form.

Let’s deal with the last thing first. Allowing banks to also provide legal services wouldn’t have any effect on the supply of lawyers, though it might well increase the demand for lawyers to work at these mythical bank firms that can steal your money and then tell you how to sue them to get it back.

As for the second “hurdle,” the bar exam, that’s a legitimate point. Certainly, the bar prevents some people, some people who would be great lawyers, from becoming lawyers. But it seems to me that the problem there isn’t that the test is too unreasonably difficult, the problem is that law schools have three years but can’t seem to teach everybody enough to pass this entry exam.

So I really think this entire barrier argument can be reduced to the hurdle of getting into an accredited law school in the first place.

And again, getting in is really quite easy. Seriously, what do you have to do? You have to fill out an application. You have to get some paperwork in order. You have to write an essay. You have to pull together some recommendations. And you have to take a test.

If you can’t do these things, HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO BE A LAWYER? What, because you like to argue it’s all gonna work out? Not for your client. Lawyers have to fill out forms. Lawyers have to get paperwork together. Lawyers have to write essays explaining how their side rocks and they have to interact with other professionals in a positive manner. They have to read and comprehend! If you can’t do these things, you are going to be terrible at representing clients. Terrible.

Representing clients is not so easy a caveman could do it! The authors of this book wouldn’t say that people who can’t fill out forms and do basic paperwork should get into medical school so that one day they can be doctors who can’t keep up with how much medication they’ve prescribed to the patient in front of them. While being a lawyer might be easier than being a doctor, there are still some basic skills that not everybody has.

I’m sorry if this hurts your feelings or makes me sound like an elitist, but not everybody has the skills necessary to be a good lawyer. Okay? This is not little league baseball. Not everybody gets to play.

Surely, pulling lawyers only from the subset of Americans who can fill out forms, write in complete sentences with words, and take a multiple choice exam without collapsing into an unresponsive mass of gray matter makes a lot of sense.

The barrier to entry is so low most people can crawl over it. Do you really want to be represented by somebody who skipped that developmental step?

Not enough lawyers? [The Economist]

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