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The Virtue of Low Barriers to Becoming a Lawyer: Promoting Liberal and Democratic Values

19 Int'l J. Legal Profession 357-378, 2012

Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2329775

34 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2013  

Russell G. Pearce

Fordham University School of Law

Sinna Nasseri

Latham & Watkins LLP, San Francisco

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

This article offers a new perspective on how to determine whether barriers to practicing law are appropriate. It identifies a connection between those barriers and the role of legal services providers (‘lawyers’) in permitting individuals to obtain their basic political and economic rights in a liberal democracy. Democratic values require making legal services as equally available as possible to all citizens, while liberal values dictate that each individual has access in order to enforce human rights, compete in a market economy, and engage in a legal system grounded in the rule of law. Liberal and democratic values therefore require the lowest barriers to becoming a lawyer, consistent with the minimum requirements of competence and the recognition that the level of competence required will vary according to the type of legal services provided and the segment of the market served. Any contrary regulatory approach requires strong empirical support to overcome the presumption of low barriers that liberal and democratic values create. Accordingly, the article rejects as unpersuasive arguments for high barriers based on promoting the public good, avoiding rent-seeking, protecting consumers, advancing judicial efficiency, redressing lawyer misconduct, and preserving lawyers’ high incomes.

Suggested Citation

Pearce, Russell G. and Nasseri, Sinna, The Virtue of Low Barriers to Becoming a Lawyer: Promoting Liberal and Democratic Values (2012). 19 Int'l J. Legal Profession 357-378, 2012; Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2329775. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2329775

Russell G. Pearce (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States
212-636-6834 (Phone)
212-636-6899 (Fax)

Sinna Nasseri

Latham & Watkins LLP, San Francisco ( email )

505 Montgomery Streest
Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 941116
United States

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