Wednesday, January 4, 2017
A partner in a prominent San-Francisco-Bay-area venture capital firm recently told me, “The tech sector is eating the world. The menu is full of inefficient legacy industries.”
The thesis of USC Professor Gillian Hadfield’s new book, Rules for a Flat World, is that the legal profession should be near the top of the menu. Hadfield argues that law is overly complicated, expensive and inefficient. This is because lawyers have monopolized the practice of law, locking out more efficient, technologically empowered, venture-capital backed competitors. These competitors—software engineers backed by venture capital money, perhaps in cooperation with lawyers and paralegals—could hopefully improve quality, reduce costs, and generally run circles around overly conservative law firms and inefficiently subscale solo practitioners.
This book will engage venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, established legal technology companies, individuals interested in regulation of the legal profession, and more broadly, those who study privatization and deregulation.
She raises important questions about which regulations of the legal profession protect consumers or serve other legitimate public policy goals and which might be merely protectionist. She targets prohibitions on practice of law within a corporation and prohibitions on profit-sharing with non-lawyers. Without such regulations, it would be easier for non-lawyers to invest in and make high level decisions for legal services providers. Non-lawyers might place more trust in technology than lawyers and might be more open to new business models.
Hadfield’s analysis focuses on the aspects of law that are an economic service (she describes it as “economic infrastructure”). Hadfield is primarily focused on commercial and corporate law. Hadfield notes that while criminal law may be more salient in popular culture, since the time of Hammurabi, most law has been about money, property rights, risk allocation, and supporting business activity.
Hadfield argues that if companies such as Westlaw, Lexis and Legal Zoom could hire lawyers to provide customer support directly to end-users, these companies could improve the appeal of their offerings and more easily compete with small and solo-practitioners. Moreover, these companies would have economies of scale and efficiencies that solo practitioners cannot readily match. Because of these efficiencies and expansion of the legal market to under-served populations, lawyers working for incorporated legal services providers would not necessarily earn less than solo practitioners currently earn, although lawyer-employees would have substantially less autonomy than lawyer-owners.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Friday, December 30, 2016
Thursday, December 29, 2016
I appreciate the many blog readers who also read my scholarly writing--it has been one of the best things about the blog for years that it has been a vehicle for sharing my work with other faculty and students across many fields. In that spirit, here are publications--or working drafts--that I made available this year:
"The Case Against Free Speech" appeared in Sydney Law Review.
"Legal Positivism about the Artifact Law," forthcoming in an OUP volume on Law as Artifact.
"Theoretical Disagreements in Law: Another Look," forthcoming in an OUP volume on Ethical Norms, Legal Norms: New Essays in Metaethics and Jurisprudence.
"Philosophy of Law," co-authored with Michael Sevel, in the Encyclopedia Britannica (if you can't access the whole essay, google "philosophy of law," it should come up as a top result and you can get the whole essay that way)
"The Paradoxes of Public Philosophy," in the inaugural issue of the Indian Journal of Legal Theory.
"Why Tolerate Religion, Again? A Reply to Michael McConnell," a working paper (but citable) at SSRN.
"Reply to Five Critics of Why Tolerate Religion?", part of a symposium on my book published by Criminal Law and Philosophy this year.
A revised version of "The Death of God and the Death of Morality," which will eventually appear in a special issue of The Monist on Nietzsche.
"Moralizing Nietzsche's Moral Psycology: The Case of Katsafanas," a review essay which also appears at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
"Moralities are a Sign-Language of the Affects," appeared in 2013 in Social Philosophy and Policy, but I was now able to make the published PDF available on SSRN.
There were actually a couple of other papers I wrote this year that I could not put on SSRN, alas--though hopefully, like the last paper, I will be able to post them in the future after publication. And then there were papers previously put on SSRN that finally appeared in books this year (e.g., here and here), but for which I have not been able to put a PDF on-line.
Thanks for reading! And a Happy New Year to all readers!
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Monday, December 26, 2016
Useful charts here. JD enrollment has stabilized, though well below its peak; non-JD enrollment has spiked as law schools try to sustain financial viability for schools that grew to their present size during the years of peak demand for legal education.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
...according to an investigation by outside counsel. The report (available at the preceding link) ultimately turns on a Pickering balancing analysis, which like most such analyses could easily have come out the other way.
UPDATE: Some additional context here.
ANOTHER: Oregon law professor Shurtz objects to release of report, claiming errors and violations of confidentiality. I suspect this matter is heading to court.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Tuesday, December 20, 2016