Following the recent death of the venerable firm Dewey & LeBouf, the WSJ features an Op-Ed discussing the problems with the old law firm business model and the need for reform.
It is easy to think that greedy lawyers are getting their just desserts. But this should not blind us from seeing that there is a better way for America's law firms to do business.
The problems these firms face today are twofold: Large clients are increasingly using in-house counsel to reduce costs, and the public is increasingly taking the do-it-yourself route given the growing access to a variety of legal services and documents on the Internet. The rational response would be for new, low-cost legal firms to start up, and for incumbents to reduce costs and attract new clients by providing innovative services.
But that is happening only to a limited extent because of state licensing requirements and American Bar Association (ABA) rules. Deregulation could open the market and transform the legal industry for the better.But, but, but ... what about all of us who already racked up huge student loans to jump through the ABA hoops? Deregulation?? Poor people will spontaneously combust, or something! Only people who graduate from really elite, elitist universities can be smart lawyers! That's not fair!