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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of May 28, 2013

LawBiz(r) newsletter

I will be in Palm Beach, FL on May 28th and 29th ... If you will be in the area and would like to get together, let me know by sending me a note,

Our holiday was quiet and pleasant. I hope yours was also. This was one of those times that I was able to rest and recoup ... all my projects and client assignments are in good shape and proceeding on schedule. I continue to heal and look forward to June when I will return to cycling on the road, not just indoors. For some reason, this holiday felt like the end of one year and the beginning of a new year with the decks cleaned and ready to proceed. Let me know how you are doing.
Ed signature

How Not to Lower the Cost of Legal Services

Challenges to the "exclusivity" of legal practice, with the stated goal of making lawyers more competitive, regularly crop up. In 2011 a Brookings Institution analyst expounded in The New York Times that by requiring lawyers to have a law degree and pass the bar exam, the profession seeks to restrict the supply of new lawyers and thus perpetuates a monopoly. Calling them "barriers to entry," this analyst wrote that, rather than improving the quality of legal practice, the requirements to graduate from an accredited law school and pass the bar "exist simply to protect lawyers from competition with non-lawyers and firms that are not lawyer-owned - competition that could reduce legal costs and give the public greater access to legal assistance."

These are not new ideas, but the assertion that they are the key to lowering costs of delivery of legal services is misplaced for three major reasons.

  • First, most of the rules in place for the licensing of lawyers are there to protect the public; they are not there to protect the interests of lawyers. For example, an individual must be competent to represent and advocate for the interests of a client. It's the same principle as licensing doctors. Incompetence in court or in the operating room can cost people their lives.

  • Second, technology provides many avenues to reduce legal costs. Removing the licensing requirements has no impact on this issue. Why not remove licensing requirements for everyone in everything, from medicine, to plumbing, to driving a car? Licensing assures a minimum standard of quality; eliminating it takes the "caveat emptor" principle to excess.

  • Third, the underlying premise that licensing provides an insurmountable barrier to entry and substantially raises costs by controlling supply might be true if one doesn't look at the facts of recent and current reality. There are many more lawyers than the current demand can accommodate. This market force in itself has helped to bring down legal costs. If there is no regulation, we might likely see larger law firms pattern their pricing after one another, just as airlines currently do, so that the benefit of lower costs would not be evident.

The only real result of eliminating licensing would be the destruction of minimum standards of quality. It would not lower prices because the only pricing requirement, according to Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5, is that "a lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee." Demonstrating value and quality of service by achieving results enables any accredited lawyer to make a convincing case about the reasonableness of a fee - no matter where it is set.

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In this issue:

How Not to Lower the Cost of Legal Services

Ed Poll's Life After Law... 50% OFF

Video: Why Marketing Matters for Lawyers, Part 1

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"I worked with Ed for a year while working to become a partner in my law firm. With Ed's coaching, I was able to achieve that goal at the end of the year. Through his coaching techniques, Ed showed me how to communicate assertively and confidently with the partners I needed to persuade to vote for my promotion into the partnership and to convince them of my abilities. I can honestly say that without Ed's help, I would not have made such an excellent impression on my partners."


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Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management   |   |   |
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