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Barriers to entry in the legal profession: Not enough lawyers?


Worth every penny?

“OVERLAWYERED” is the name of a widely read blog on America’s legal system, and many Americans feel that way. Yet three economists think the country is actually plagued by too few lawyers, not too many. Clifford Winston and Robert Crandall of the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, and Vikram Maheshri of the University of Houston, published a book last month arguing that barriers to entry have kept the number of lawyers artificially low for decades. This—combined with an economy over-regulated by lawyers who go on to politics—results in an unearned premium on legal wages.Three supply barriers bulk largest. The American Bar Association accredits law schools, and in most states you must be a graduate of one of them to practise law. (California, most notably, lets students practise who have passed the bar without attending law school. Pass rates are a respectable 15%, against 30% for graduates of bar-approved law schools.) The authors note that Abraham Lincoln, who practised for decades, and Clarence Darrow, perhaps the most celebrated criminal defender in…

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