I write a lot on this blog about the monopoly of the American legal profession on representation in court.
While I live in the U.S. for 16 years, I was born and raised in Russia, and I follow events in my native country, including developing trends in its legal profession. And what I see there is, unfortunately, attempting to borrow from the U.S. what the U.S. needs to shed, after several decades of a botched experiment - regulation of the legal profession and monopoly for provision of legal services and court representation.
On the one hand, the Russian legal community is clearly interested in establishing monopoly for legal services, and, as in the U.S., is claiming that the reason for establishing it is in order to help the consumers obtain only competent legal services.
At the same time, the Russian legal profession pays the lip service to the fact that, with 15 mln civil cases pending in court and only 75,000 lawyers in the country of over 146 mln people, it will be an injustice to the people to deprive them of any representation in court that they want by people that they have chosen and trust, even if they are not trained attorneys, when the trained attorneys do not have the physical ability to handle all the cases.
Of course, consumers of legal services in the U.S., where monopoly for both court representation and for any legal services at all, including real estate transactions, certifications of copies of documents drafting of wills, deeds and contracts are allowed to be done only by licensed attorneys, know that such monopoly makes legal services unaffordable and more scarse, but does not provide better services.
It appears that Russia is moving several decades behind the global trends which are towards deregulation of the legal profession.
The U.K. started the deregulation in 2003.
In the U.S., the State of Arizona has been lax in prosecuting unauthorized practice of law, the State of New York itself has introduced in 2012 a requirement to law student to provide 50 hours of pro bono services as a pre-requisite of licensing, half-measures that show that the number of attorneys existing at this time, and at the prices they fix for their services, is unable to meet the demand of the market for affordable legal services.
In 2014, New York State also introduced the so-called "court navigators" to "help" indigent consumers "navigate" the legal system - while not providing legal services.
Those measures are, of course, half-measures that will be just a drop in the bucket and will not relieve the "justice gap" acknowledged by New York Chief Judge Lippman - even though the justice gap is created by regulation and the only thing that is needed to relieve that justice gap is to deregulate the legal profession, even if experimentally, for a certain period of time.
Various attacks on deregulation of the legal profession in the U.S. have already started.
A book advocating deregulation of the legal profession was published in 2011.
An individual without any legal education has recently challenged the requirement of the state that only individuals who graduated from an ABA-approved law school can sit for the bar examination.
On February 25, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court has made a decision in a case regarding regulation of dentists stripping dentists who regulate dentists of their immunity based on their anti-competitive activities, see my blogs commenting the decision before it was made, and after it was made.
Judging by the ardor with which bar associations, and not consumer groups, from different state attempted to prevent that decision, and I have read the concerted "friend of the court" brief of bar associations of several states, the establishment of the American legal profession sees the writing on the wall, that its days of monopoly are counted.
From the point of anti-competitive activities, I recently won an interim court decision for a client in a civil rights case where the court ruled that my client can proceed with a civil rights case for actions of a disciplinary committee continuing to investigate and prosecute him long after they took his license.
I also recently asked the Federal Trade Commission to apply their recent victory in the U.S. Supreme Court the dentists' case to address attorney regulation in the State of New York for what it is - regulating of market by influential market providers for their personal gain of influential market providers, in violation of consumer's rights and federal anti-trust laws.
It is clear that the monopoly for legal services should die, and as quick a death as possible, to prevent further harm to the consumers.
I hope that the FTC starts the process of deregulation by applying the decision in the dentists' case to the legal profession.
I hope that the Russian legal establishment will not get their upper hand in claiming their monopoly. No matter in which country and in which profession monopolies are imposed, they hurt the consumers in making services more scarce, less versatile, more costly and do nothing to ensure competence or quality of those services.
And, such monopolies take consumers for idiots and do not allow them their own free choice of who to choose as a provider of services, with their own verification of the person's abilities to provide those services and their trustworthiness.
Competent people who raise children, keep jobs, pay taxes and vote do not need such a paternalistic approach, they can decide for themselves what services from what providers they need.