Between 2009 and 2020, Josh published more than 10,000 blog posts. Here, you can access his blog archives.


Congratulations to Larry Ribstein, who was posthumously awarded the Martin I. Lubaroff Award

August 10th, 2012

Truth on the Market has the story. This award, given to “a lawyer who has consistently demonstrated leadership, scholarship, and outstanding service in LLCs, Partnerships and Unincorporated Entities law” is so well-deserved.

Larry’s passing was such a tragic loss for all of us. Here is what I wrote about Larry at the time, while I was on hiatus:

 I am so deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Professor Larry Ribstein. I have never met Larry, but we have spoken on the phone, and emailed countless times, and I hold him in the highest regards.

He has inspired me and I hope I can continue to consider his ideas, and take a second look at legal theory, legal education, and the legal profession.

Larry was a scholar and a true asset to our society. He will be missed so deeply.

I dedicated my article on FantasySCOTUS to Larry’s memory. Prior to his passing, we talked about my research, and he gave me some excellent thoughts.

I am very glad to see that Larry’s memory is going on strong.

Larry Ribstein, Rest In Peace

December 24th, 2011

I am so deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Professor Larry Ribstein. I have never met Larry, but we have spoken on the phone, and emailed countless times, and I hold him in the highest regards.

When I had an interview with Illinois at AALS, Larry generously spoke with me on the phone for nearly 30 minutes (in between his travels somewhere overseas) and told me exactly what to say, exactly whom I had to impress, and told me–more importantly–what *not to say* to certain people. The advice was spot-on.

I had emailed with Larry a lot about his work on Law’s Information Revolution, and bounced ideas off him about FantasySCOTUS and legal prediction markets as a tool in that revolution. I see (just now) that he cited my work on FantasySCOTUS in his article.

I read his work so carefully about the future of the legal profession and the future of legal education and tried to weave it into my own thinking.

I was about to contact him about his work about Sarbanes-Oxley to talk about black swans.

I diligently read his blogging, and wrote so many posts praising his work.

He has inspired me and I hope I can continue to consider his ideas, and take a second look at legal theory, legal education, and the legal profession.

Larry was a scholar and a true asset to our society. He will be missed so deeply.

Some reactions from Solum, Leiter, FIller, Somin, Wright, and there are more, plus condolences on Larry’s FB wall.

Update: More touching words from Ted Frank.

I cannot begin to say how devastated I am at the sudden death of Larry Ribstein this morning, just two days shy of his fortieth wedding anniversary. Larry was so creative and innovative in so many fields (this is just how many times we cited to him since February, including just this week), I often found myself wishing that there were several Larrys because everything he wrote had such opportunity cost for other things he didn’t have time to write. I was always begging him to write for me when I was at AEI, and the time he said yes, he (with Henry Butler) turned out the important The Sarbanes-Oxley Debacle, a devastating and persuasive takedown of the new law. I’d end up plagiarizing Professor Bainbridge’s summary of the rest of Ribstein’s body of work to discuss the rest of it, so I’ll refer you to his thorough post. In area after area—overcriminalization, overregulation, popular-culture portrayal of business, the cartelization of legal practice and education—he was often close to alone in taking important contrarian positions. If I found myself disagreeing with Larry, I knew it meant I’d better put some soul-searching and analysis into my own position; if I hadn’t already thought about an issue of corporate law or federalism, I knew I could scan Ribstein’s work on the subject to have a good starting point. So not only do we not have the three or five Larry Ribsteins we needed, we now don’t even have the one, and we’re poorer for it.

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.

Ribstein on the “next step in the evolution of corporate legal services.”

November 8th, 2011

I look forward to Ribstein’s next paper, teased in this post:

I predict the next step in the evolution of corporate legal services will be the mutation of in-house lawyers themselves.  Instead of corporations simply bringing law firms within their walls, they will spread legal expertise throughout the organization — what I refer to in the Wisconsin paper as “embedded lawyers.”

These developments have significant implications for the market for corporate legal services.  Law firms have managed to survive for decades on a business model that enables them to charge corporate clients hundreds of dollars an hour more for their lawyers’ services than the firms are paying.  The difference, of course, is profits to the partners.  Corporations are now competing away these profits.

Needless to say, law graduates and law schools will see the effects of this competition between in-house and outside law firms.  At the same time that law grads are seeing fewer corporate jobs they may also be seeing lower wages for the jobs that are available.

And this will disrupt the way that lawyer recruiting occurs–the prestige of big law schools will no longer mean as much when corporations are trying to cut costs:

Moreover, applicants for these in-house jobs will have to meet corporate specs. Under the old model, law firms hired generalists from the best schools and trained them.  Corporations hired some of the better ones a few years out. Now corporations are looking to hire cheaper lawyers right out of law school.  They’re looking for graduates who don’t need the law firm apprenticeship.

The law schools that will win the corporate job placement derby will be the ones that can provide some of the training law firms used to provide.  In other words, while law schools seem to think they need to teach their graduates where to find the courthouse, the biggest need will be those who understand how businesses make money.

And here’s the key–technology:

These developments have implications beyond corporate legal services.  Corporations can access legal technology without worrying about the unauthorized practice rules that restrict this technology at the consumer level.  But once this technology is widespread in firms it will be harder to block its availability to consumers.

Ribstein: Deregulation of Lawyers Will Leader to fewer Lawyers, not incompetent lawyers

October 31st, 2011

Ribstein responds to a piece by Jordan Weissman in the Atlantic critical of deregulation of lawyers. Weissman argues that with regulation, there will be more lawyers.

But don’t we already have too many lawyers? As The Times and other papers have amply documented, the U.S. currently faces a serious glut of attorneys, many of whom are finding it nearly impossible to get work as firms see profits shrink and governments face tighter budgets. Winston and Crandall have a ready retort. By bringing down prices, demand for services will increase, and that will create more legal jobs…

Letting more people become lawyers won’t drive down costs in high-flying corporate law. And although it could help control legal fees for the rest of us, we could wind up allowing under-educated people to represent important cases for families who can’t afford the high-flying treatment.

Ribstein disagrees:

The likely consequences of meaningful deregulation will not be more incompetent lawyers.  Rather, lawyers will have to prove their value against an array of technologies and information services that make legal advice cheaper and more accessible to ordinary consumers.  Whether or not they continue to be licensed, lawyers will have to get better in order not to be replaced by machines.  Licensing may remain, but its domain will shrink.  The changes throughout the existing profession are likely to be vast.