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Want to Lower the Cost of Law School and Legal Advice? Allow Nonlawyers to Practice Law, Op-Ed Says

Posted Oct 25, 2011 6:33 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An op-ed proposes one way to lower the cost of a legal education: Drop the requirement altogether.

If states allowed nonlawyers and corporations to practice law, the price of legal advice would drop and more consumers could afford it, according to a New York Times op-ed by Clifford Winston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

“Of course, lower legal prices would cause new law school graduates to be paid less, but more jobs would be available for such graduates because the demand for lawyers would increase,” Winston writes. “And new graduates would begin their careers with less law-school debt, because alternative providers of legal education would force law schools to reduce tuition.”

Winston says another way to lower costs and regulate the legal field would be for third parties to provide more information about lawyers. The op-ed praises Avvo for offering legal ratings, and criticizes efforts to impede its work.

Winston says two of the nation’s best lawyers—Clarence Darrow and Abraham Lincoln—did not graduate from law school. “Eliminating entry barriers and allowing nonlawyers to perform legal services would, among many other gains, ensure that such talents have a place within our legal system,” he writes.

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