Two New Articles From Larry Ribstein on Legal Education and the Legal Profession

December 12th, 2011

First,  is Delawyering the Corporation.  Here’s the abstract:

This article shows how in-house lawyers’ role has evolved to address the high cost of legal services and the traditional information asymmetry between lawyers and clients. The first stage of this evolution involved the expanding role of in-house counsel from intermediary between corporate executives and the corporation’s outside law firm to the corporation’s purchasing agent in a broader market for legal services. The second stage could see legal work distributed among employees with and without legal expertise throughout the corporation. The article also shows how evolving legal information technology could facilitate corporations’ full-fledged integration of legal information into business decisions. These developments have potential implications for the corporate and general markets for legal services and for legal education.

Second is a paper I have commented a bunch about in draft form–Law’s Information Revolution:

Lawyers traditionally have conveyed legal expertise in the form of advice tailored to the needs of individual clients. This business model is reinforced by licensing and ethical rules designed to ensure lawyers’ competence and loyalty to clients’ interests. The traditional professional model is being challenged by an alternative model based on the sale of legal information in impersonal product and capital markets. In this new world, legal information engineers would to some extent replace legal practitioners.

This article provides a theoretical intellectual property framework for the regulatory decisions that must be made as the two models collide. We show that traditional professional regulation inhibits full development of the new business model by limiting intellectual property protection for legal information. This regulation assumes that consumers get legal information in one-to-one relationships with lawyers where they have little ability to evaluate the advice they are receiving. However, a fully developed legal information market could substitute for some of the protection consumers now receive from licensing and ethical rules without the current model’s costs of restricting the supply and raising the costs of legal services. We apply our analysis to some actual and potential markets in legal information.