1. “Ethics” rules are the main determinant of how the legal market is structured: Who can do what? With whom? What is “practicing law”?
2. After decades of practicing business law, I believe that “ethics” rules structuring the market for legal services are largely about protecting lawyers from unwanted competition.
The legal profession decides who can do what in solving businesses’ legal problems.
They decide the circumstances in which lawyers may — and may not — work with people whom lawyers call “nonlawyers”. And they decide if solving a particular type of legal problem amounts to “practicing law” — something that only a licensed attorney is allowed to do.
The legal profession makes these decisions through state bar authorities that adopt rules of professional “ethics”.
Those state bar authorities are made up of … well … lawyers.
In the United States, attorneys set for themselves the competitive boundaries of markets in which they can sell their services — and in which they use the force of law to forbid others to compete with them. Continue reading