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A broadside at the soft-underbelly of what only licensed US lawyers are entitled to do

The NYSBA J., Oct. 2010 at 36, discusses in an article on law schools several industry-wide changes general counsel can agitate for to benefit the profession (See my post of Nov. 1, 2010: broad initiatives of general counsel.). The third change startled me.

General counsel should “pressure state authorities to let non-attorneys officially provide the kind of work they need and have needlessly and traditionally been overpaying licensed attorneys to do – like discovery, expert witness preparation, patent filing, and similar tasks.” Written by a law school professor in an article about how law schools need to change and keep up to date, this shotgun line, blasting away at the fundamental economics of the bar, made me blink.

Huge swathes of what associates currently do could shift to non-attorneys if you reason the way the author does. Why not reason that way, particularly if the consumer of those unregulated services is an in-house lawyer who can make judgments about quality and value (See my post of Sept. 21, 2008: “qualified legal purchasers” as a concept.).