Political Sociology Essay, Research Paper
Question #3: What strategies as the legal profession used to establish a professional monopoly? In what sense have these strategies been successful or unsuccessful? Why?
Before we can discuss the way that the legal profession as attempted, either successful or not, to create a monopoly the definition of what a professional is should be looked at. A profession, according to the functionalists, is first serves the needs of the public’s best interest. To the functionalists there is no professional bank robber. A profession has a strong community or essentially by blocking out competition. The last and most important idea of professionalism is self-regulation. It is the ultimate goal of any profession to be self-regulated. Here is where we can observe that professions do not establish a monopoly, yet the term profession itself means to monopolize the work place. According to people of any profession theory will argue that this is a neccesity. The only people, professionals argue, that can judge or regulate the in this case lawyers would be expert lawyers. It would not make sense to have professionals from other areas such as blacksmiths, doctors, electricians, etc., regulate the legal profession.
There are two sides to this argument that the legal profession claims. Though the self regulation is good because they can now set standards for the profession and high ones at that, on the other hand they will be less likely to punish on of their own because it makes the profession look bad. This argument of whether it is in the public’s best interest remains to be seen and self-regulation is in a constant struggle to prove so.
The strategies employed by those who wished to keep the legal profession just that a profession, for which I already showed means monopoly, was by first establishing barriers for prospective lawyers to cross. In other words, guidelines that forbid any citizen to just claim divine lawyership becoming a lawyer without the proper education or knowledge. The first step to achieve this was by forming an American Bar Association (ABA), which was accomplished in 1878. Before this there were local Bar Associations, which had neither real ties nor any organization to begin to regulate the practices of lawyers. The Bar Examinations, which are a form of self-control, began to be used as a tool. The ABA struggled to get states to accept this as the entry port in to the legal profession. This is one way in which the profession can regulate who becomes lawyers, the Association would regulate the number of lawyers in the industrial states for there were already a number of lawyers, and they want to keep competition down. This is a fundamental goal of monopolies to eliminate competition.
As the Bar Examinations gained power, those wishing to be lawyers realized that they needed to go to school to learn about the tests. One cannot take a test for which they do not know the subject matter. Consequently, the number of law schools increased drastically. The ABA lost control to law schools, the schools are cheap to maintain and kept increasing enrollment, offering part-time school, giving every opportunity for as many aspiring lawyers a chance. After the ABA was unsuccessful and felt like they were losing control they put pressure on the law schools to slow down, but they had no reason to. The next step for the ABA, in trying to monopolize the legal profession was to work with the most rigorous and prestigious schools giving them accreditation.
1921 saw the ABA adopt a formal standard way of legal training, teamed up with the Association of American Law School to raise the standards for access to membership. Proving once again unsuccessful the ABA pushed to mandate that all state bars to only accept new lawyers who attended only accredited law schools. This was needed because the attempt at monopolizing was failing because students were not going to the more expensive accredited law schools. Now a first step at gaining a monopoly at what schools lawyers must attend was successful. During the depression and WW II the unaccredited schools were driven out, thus a true monopoly over the entrance into the profession was completed.
The next step to further the monopoly was to mandate that all accredited law schools mandate that all law students must have a college education. The Bar would and was in constant battle with state legislatures of trying to further regulate bar admittance. The Bar Association established a character and fitness test to regulate and discourage the number of immigrants and minorities from applying.
The ABA also attempted was to ensure self-regulation, doing this the legal profession would maintain itself as a legitimate profession. They must do this by lobbying government. This proved to highly successful for lawyers as they gained ground by working with other professionals and making treaties and lobbying. It would not seem that difficult to me, since most politicians were lawyers themselves, and much of that was to secure the governments willingness and ability to the ABA. It goes without saying that members of the ABA will do what is in the best interest to lock the legal profession by the use of legislative laws, and those making the laws themselves are ABA members.
For the most part the ABA was successful in monopolizing the profession and continues to do so, it has taken them much hardship and time. Even though there is a rise in the number of lawyers, the ABA will limit those who pass the bar to balance the workforce. One area that the ABA has been very successful is creating an ethnic monopoly. Not very minorities are lawyers for various policies and regulations established by the bar thus blacks framed the NBA, no not the National Basketball Association but the National Bar Association. This association is becoming very powerful, they are an organization aimed to help and support other black lawyers.
In conclusion the ABA has over the last century painstakingly attempted to monopolize the legal profession. The ultimate goal being self-regulation was finally achieved through the government. For example it is illegal to give legal advice if you are not a lawyer, one cannot represent another in a court of law without a law license; which are controlled by the ABA. There are gamuts of things the nonprofessionals cannot do, unless licensed. The ABA today has complete control over who gets to become a lawyer and in some ways that is good; rather, on the other hand the law profession in our society is looked down upon. And the way they are systematically denying access or making it impractical for minorities shows that someone needs to regulate the self-regulated professions