I wrote a lot on this blog that licensing of the "practice of law" is a sham, from many points of view.
First of all, it hurts the consumers and protects the markets (and high prices) in the markets for influential attorneys only, because attorney discipline are only targeted against independent solo and small firm attorneys, predominantly civil rights and criminal defense attorneys.
Over 80% of consumers cannot afford to hire an attorney across the country, and for the legal profession to claim that licensing protects quality of services for the consumers is claiming that 80% of the poorest consumers must pay for the protection of quality of legal services for the remaining 20% of consumers of legal services who can afford to protect themselves.
Moreover, when an attorney is licensed to practice law in the State of New York, he or she is licensed to practice in all possible specialties.
As practice shows, that alone can be detrimental for the consumer, because the consumer relies upon the license as a guarantee of the lawyer's competence while, let's say, criminal law is such a specific area that without specific training in criminal law and especially in criminal procedure (not a required course in law schools), relying on such a presumption of competence of an attorney is foolish.
In my disciplinary case, I became acutely aware how incompetent an attorney who purports to practice criminal law can be.
Mary Gasparini, my disciplinary prosecutor (civil prosecutor) purported to practice criminal law while obviously having no clue about such important issues as:
- how a criminal case can be brought;
- what initiating documents for a criminal case are valid;
- how documents initiating a criminal case must be served;
- in which courts certain criminal cases may or may not be brought;
- what constitute territorial jurisdiction of New York state courts and how it is determined;
- what is presumption of innocence;
- what is the constitutional right to remain silent;
- what is the requirement for non-hearsay support for criminal charges;
- what is the burden of proof in a criminal case;
- who has the burden of proof in a criminal case and how that proof must be presented;
- what are the elements of the offense charged and how those elements must be proven;
- what are the rules of disqualification of a public prosecutor in a criminal case
And, I am sure, there are a lot of such Mary Gasparinis out there who boldly proceed to ruin people's lives while having no clue about the applicable law, but their law license serves creates in consumers of their services a false presumption of competence of such attorneys.
It will be lot more honest and will protect consumers of legal services more if licensing of the practice of law is scrapped, the and if people are finally given a free right to choose providers of legal services from who they trust by their own criteria, including by reputation the providers in cases they already handled, whether such providers have a formal legal education or not.
I know a lot of people who did not even finish high school, but who know criminal procedure better far than Mary Gasparini.