Legal Services Regulation And Equality

Clifford Winston and Robert Crandall propose deregulation of the legal services industry arguing that “many more people could offer various forms of legal services today at far lower prices if the American Bar Association (ABA) did not artificially restrict the number of lawyers through its accreditation of law schools—most states require individuals to graduate from such a school to take their bar exam—and by inducing states to bar legal services by non-lawyer-owned entities.”

That makes sense to me. It’s also a reminder of the fact that it’s sometimes very important to distinguish between different kinds of inequality. Lawyers are richer than the average American. So if deregulation of the legal services industry resulted in lower prices for legal services and reduced earnings for lawyers, that would be an egalitarian move in most respects. That said, even though lawyers earn a lot of money, very few of the very highest-earning Americans make their money as lawyers. Legal services deregulation might plausibly lead one or two or three specific individuals to earn vast fortunes as entrepreneurs in much the way that the founders of Ikea, Wal-Mart, H&M, and other price-reducing retail chains are among the richest people on the planet.