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February 03, 2003

Lawyers Protecting Their Cartel

Here is a story about lawyers in full self-interested cartel mode trying to limit non-lawyers from giving legal advice. The proposal to be voted on by the American Bar Association would advocate preventing any non-lawyer from giving legal advice, negotiating on behalf of others, or "selecting, drafting or completing legal documents."

It's a ridiculous way to prevent competition on even routine legal issues that often need no more knowledge than a good self-help book or a knowledgeable friend. Yes, there are fears of missing out on a complication in a particular situation, but for many people the choice is getting no legal help (since they can't afford more) or getting the cheaper non-lawyer help.

And as someone involved in the National Lawyers Guild, which often has non-lawyer legal workers giving advice to people on their legal rights, this would be an excuse by the government to silence a whole range of activists helping organize and build resistance to repression. Under the ABA definition, a non-lawyer just explaining to immigrant communities their right not to speak to police in certain situations could get the organizer in legal trouble themselves.

This is a truly bad and dangerous proposal.

Posted by Nathan at February 3, 2003 12:27 AM

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