The Lawyer’s Monopoly-What Goes and What Stays
By Benjamin H. Barton
We live in a time of unprecedented changes for American lawyers, probably the greatest changes since the Great Depression. That period saw the creation of the lawyer’s monopoly through a series of regulatory modifications. Will we see the same following the Great Recession? Formally, no. This Article predicts that formal lawyer regulation in 2023 will look remarkably similar to lawyer regulation in 2013. This is because lawyer regulators will not want to rock the boat in the profession or in law schools during a time of roil.
Informally, yes! We are already seeing a combination of computerization, outsourcing, and nonlawyer practice radically reshape the market for law from one that centers on individualized, hourly work done for clients to a market of much cheaper, commoditized legal products. This trend will accelerate over time. The upshot? Formal lawyer regulation will continue on with little change, but will cover an ever-shrinking proportion of the market for legal services.