American Bar Association Won’t Break Law by Barring Entry to Legal Profession
You published an opinion piece by Mark Greenbaum on Jan. 16. His analysis is premised on incorrect facts from which he draws flawed conclusions. He misstates the number of American Bar Association-approved law schools, ties it to what he describes as a “flood of graduates” and insists the ABA should “block” new schools. He fails to acknowledge that, in fact, existing law schools have reduced voluntarily class size and therefore, despite a minimal increase in the number of accredited law schools (7 percent over a five-year period), first-year enrollment grew by only 2 percent. Hardly producing a “flood of graduates.”
Greenbaum’s proposal to erect barriers to entry in the profession and/or to new law schools would violate the antitrust laws of the United States, something the ABA cannot and will not attempt to do. To violate our nation’s laws as we strive to teach new lawyers ethical and responsible practice would offend public trust and disserve future clients. Before so casually dismissing antitrust “concerns,” Greenbaum should consider the basic precepts of antitrust law that ban concerted action to bar entry to a public profession.
He proposes to protect income of lawyers already in practice by clamping the pipeline for bright, committed, energetic and talented new lawyers preparing to serve the public. Rather, the ABA is working to ensure that our profession is open to all from our communities who wish to serve the public. Our profession and those involved in our justice system must reflect our communities. It is a difficult time for all given the economic crisis.
On its Web site (abanet.org/legaled/prelaw/prep.html) the ABA, however, does provide young people who wish to become lawyers with realistic information about the economy and their own prospects for employment. The ABA also strives to help lawyers already in practice to cope with an economy that is a challenge for everyone, and to help their clients weather the crisis until we all enjoy economic recovery.
Carolyn B. Lamm, Chicago
Lamm is president of the American Bar Association.
(As published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer)