Tag: free market

Are Licensed Paralegal Practitioners a good idea?

I just received and responded to a survey from Alyx Mark, assistant professor at Wesleyan University and a law and society scholar. After completing the survey, I sent this e-mail to Professor Mark:

Professor Mark,

I just completed your survey on the Utah LPP (Licensed Paralegal Practitioner) program.

I am not an LPP. I have never been an LPP. I am a divorce and family lawyer and have been for 25 years.

I do not employ any LPPs and never have. I do not have any financial interest in the success of the LPP program. I would benefit personally were there no LPPs, but I do not oppose the LPP program. I support it because I support reducing the costs associated with access to justice. I support the LPP program and its development and refinement. I know that I am rare among divorce and family lawyers in that regard. I support it because I believe in progress and believe in the free market as one of the best engines of progress, especially in the provision of legal advice and services.

The access to legal information (and advice) on the Internet has destroyed much of what made lawyers special and valuable when the only practical access to such knowledge was to go to law school, learn it, and remember it.

I know that most divorce and family lawyers who oppose LPPs do so out of self-interest and not a burning desire to ensure that the public gets the best legal advice possible. Consequently, lawyers who oppose the LPP program and others like it in other jurisdictions know they can’t public state their real reasons for their opposition  because nobody would listen and worse, telling people “you need lawyers, not LPPs, because lawyers need a monopoly” without engendering even more loathing and distrust for the legal profession than already exists. And so the arguments lawyers try to make to persuade the profession and the public to oppose the LPP program are as transparently lame as they are self-serving.

There are legitimate concerns about opening the practice of law to people less educated in the law, but few practicing lawyers oppose LPP programs on that basis.

As I have stated since the LPP program was proposed: lawyers had every opportunity to maintain their monopoly by providing the services the public wants and need in a manner and at a price the public wants, but the lawyers got complacently greedy. When the lawyers stopped offering a service the public was willing to pay for, the market looked elsewhere.

Would you share your survey results with me when you complete it?


Eric K. Johnson,

Utah Family Law, LC

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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Has the ability of lawyers to advertise been beneficial to our legal system?

Unquestionably, yes.

Now don’t misunderstand me. When I say that the ability of lawyers to advertise has been unquestionably beneficial to our legal system, that does not mean I’m saying it has been nothing but beneficial to our legal system. Overall, the benefits outweigh the detriments.

While the most visible lawyer advertising is almost universally cheesy and in bad taste (and from only a few kinds of lawyers, mostly personal injury, disability, bankruptcy, and tax lawyers, and maybe divorce lawyers), and in some cases even misleading, the fact that lawyers can advertise makes it easier for people to be aware of lawyers’ services and how to make contact with lawyers to seek those services, so that they can get help through those services.

It would be wonderful if all advertising were held to a standard that prohibited any advertising that was false or misleading. But no such standard exists because no such standard can exist. Advertising is all around us and can be overwhelming. Advertising on and around every corner can be—and frequently is—an eyesore. Still, we benefit from advertising because it makes us aware of (free of charge to us and without us having to go to any effort to explore on our own) the goods and services available to us. Our lives are richer and safer and healthier and more enjoyable, etc. because we are made aware of the goods and services out there that but for advertising we would never learn of. Lawyer services are no exception.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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