The Cost of Law: Promoting Access to Justice through the (Un)Corporate Practice of Law

59 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2013 Last revised: 5 May 2015

See all articles by Gillian K. Hadfield

Gillian K. Hadfield

University of Toronto; Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence; OpenAI; Center for Human-Compatible AI

Date Written: October 30, 2013

Abstract

The U.S. faces a mounting crisis in access to justice. Vast numbers of ordinary Americans represent themselves in routine legal matters daily in our over-burdened courts. Obtaining ex ante legal advice is effectively impossible for almost everyone except larger corporate entities, organizations and governments. In this paper, I explain why, as a matter of economic policy, it is essential that the legal profession abandon the prohibition on the corporate practice of law in order to remedy the access problem. The prohibitions on the corporate practice of law rule out the use of essential organizational and contracting tools widely used in most industries to control costs, improve quality and reduce errors. This keeps prices for legal assistance high by cutting the industry off from the ordinary economic benefits of scale, data analysis, product and process engineering and diversified sources of capital and innovation. Lawyers operating in law firms have not generated these benefits but they have appeared in countries, such as the U.K., where the corporate practice of law doctrine does not prevail. Eliminating restrictions on the corporate practice of law can significantly improve the access ordinary Americans have to legal help in a law-thick world.

Keywords: access to justice, cost of law, legal profession, corporate practice of law, fee sharing, non-lawyers

Suggested Citation

Hadfield, Gillian K., The Cost of Law: Promoting Access to Justice through the (Un)Corporate Practice of Law (October 30, 2013). International Review of Law and Economics, Forthcoming; USC CLASS Research Paper No. 13-4; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 13-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2333990

Gillian K. Hadfield (Contact Author)

University of Toronto ( email )

78 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
4169784214 (Phone)

Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence ( email )

OpenAI ( email )

Center for Human-Compatible AI ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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