A battle is being waged in California to deregulate the practice of law-to create a free market in which all who wish to practice law may do so with! impunity. Deregulation advocates, including a committee of the California State Bar, point to the overwhelming need to provide affordable legal services for the poor and middle class. California presently has a large number of lay practitioners who are meeting this need by offering legal services that often cross over into the bounds of the unauthorized practice of law. Those who wish to maintain the status quo cite evidence that many of these lay practitioners, not bound by the educational and ethical restraints placed on lawyers, are often incompetent and may be defrauding customers.
This Note joins the debate and analyzes the drive to deregulate, focusing on the effects deregulation would have on the poor and middle class. This Note concludes that deregulation advocates underestimate the potential harm to consumers and society that may be caused by lay practitioners. The Note also points out, however, that those in favor of the status quo fail to differentiate among the vast array of "legal services" and, in doing so, have clung to an outdated vision of the law. This Note proposes a balance between the need for affordable services and the need for competent services. It suggests a limited licensing system that would have educational and ethical requirements and would allow licensed practitioners to provide certain legal services.
Meredith Ann Munro,
Deregulation of the Practice of Law: Panacea or Placebo,
42 Hastings L.J. 203
Available at: https://repository.uchastings.edu/hastings_law_journal/vol42/iss1/5