Unleashing Market Forces in Legal Education and the Legal Profession
Deborah Jones Merritt
Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law
Daniel C. Merritt
December 17, 2012
Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Forthcoming
Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 180
Brian Tamanaha has written a thoughtful critique of legal education; we agree with his assessment and many of his prescriptions. Tamanaha, however, does not press hard enough on a fundamental flaw that plagues both legal education and law practice: Our profession operates as a tournament guild. Law schools and established practitioners maintain a lengthy, stressful, and expensive series of competitions to separate winners from losers. A small number of lawyers reap most of the guild profits; others toil for much less reward or leave the profession.
Addressing this problem requires easing the market restraints that currently shield the legal profession. Ordinary fraud and consumer protection laws adequately protect clients; tighter constraints benefit established lawyers, while harming new lawyers and consumers. In this essay, we outline law’s status as a tournament guild, then suggest how market competition could address some of the problems identified by Tamanaha and other critics of legal education.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: markets, legal education, Tamanaha, law schools, ABA, legal ethics, model rules of professional conduct
JEL Classification: K2, K21
Date posted: December 18, 2012