Hemispheres Apart, a Profession Connected
16 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 1, 2014
In recent years, a number of scholars have built upon the bifurcated nature of the legal profession with proposals to relax professional regulation in just one of the profession’s hemispheres. Some advocate a relaxation of unauthorized practice rules in the personal services hemisphere to increase competition, decrease prices, and make legal services more accessible to all segments of the population. Others propose a relaxation of particular client protections in the corporate hemisphere to honor client autonomy and choice. In this essay, I explore the unintended and problematic consequences of these proposals. I argue that although scholars advocating the two sets of changes have divergent goals and motivations, their proposals suffer from a common flaw — they fail to account for the extent and significance of linkages that connect the profession’s hemispheres. Focusing on these linkages, I argue that proposals to relax regulation along the profession’s existing structural contours threaten to exaggerate and entrench wealth and power disparities in the profession and in society at large.
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