Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Too Few Lawyers?

"If law school is so hard to get through... how come there are so many lawyers?"
--Calvin Trillin

In law school, one of my more colorful professors (an open Marxist) didn’t think there were enough lawyers. He suggested that the bar be barred. In other words, he didn’t believe that lawyers should be licensed. With fewer barriers to entry to the profession, the more “lawyers” available to “serve” the public. In turn, as a matter of simple supply and demand, the cost to the client would be reduced substantially. Incompetence, he said, would be handled by the market. Those who couldn’t perform would eventually be drummed out. Those clients hurt along the way could pursue malpractice lawsuits to be made whole. Getting lawyers to handle such claims would be easier because, again, there would be many more attorneys available to bring them (no pesky bar exams). My professor’s modest proposal came to mind when I read an unusual obituary this morning. The article told the story of a 19 year-old self-styled legal expert, Marcus Arnold. (C. Luther, “M. Arnold, 19; Q&A Website’s Self-Styled Expert”, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 13, 2005, p. B10.) It seems Mr. Arnold became one of the top-rated experts on an advice website, showing himself particularly adept at answering questions in criminal law. He apparently did so with great alacrity, amount and appreciation.