attorneys lawyers lawsuit rent seeking

Some Lawyers are OK but is their Profession?
legal services

Lawyers -- Rent Seekers or Problem Solvers?

Should some get rich by causing trouble for others then acting like rescuers when solving the troubles their legislation has caused? We excerpt this 2013 article from OpEdNews, Feb 22.

By Reza Varjavand

In a cemetery, a man was walking back to his car after visiting the grave of his father when he noticed a tombstone inscribed with the words: "Here lies a lawyer and an honest man." He said to himself in surprise: "I didn't know they could bury two people in the same grave!"

This joke underscores the extent of public dissatisfaction with the legal profession. Lawyers generate more hostility than the members of any other profession -- with the possible exception of Journalism. Lawyers are often accused of "rent seeking", which is an attempt by certain individuals or business firms to gain a larger and larger share of national income without making positive contributions to the economy. In other words, they become wealthy not by creating wealth but by taking wealth away from others.

It is often carried out through pricey lawsuits against business firms and the costs are passed on to consumers.

Companies in high-tech areas spend exorbitant amounts of money and resources suing one another for patent infringements. Recently, the jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages to be paid by Samsung for allegedly copying some aspects of Apple's wildly popular iPhone and iPad.

Lawsuits like this are instigated by lawyers who will gain handsomely regardless of the outcome. They may also encourage companies to file even more lawsuits in anticipation of monetary gain as well as monopoly of power. Rather than focus on their products, companies seek easy money at the expense of their rivals.

While rent seeking can be accomplished through various channels, large companies have hired skilled lobbyist/lawyers to influence the course of politics and the laws and regulations enacted by the US.

The U.S. ranks at the top when it comes to its number of licensed lawyers. There are currently 1,143,358 of them, one per every 265 people. Meanwhile, the inverse correlation between economic growth and the number of lawyers has been properly documented.

Despite oversupply, the costs of legal service keep rising at usually twice the rate of inflation. The mounting spending on legal services is partially due to additional demand created through vigorous advertising by lawyers. Considering the oversupply of lawyers, creating demand becomes a necessity for the survival and flourishing of the legal business.

To read more

JJS: Lawyers feast on privilege, privileges such as excessive patents and copyrights, such as limited liability, and the granddaddy of them all -- private retention of socially-generated land rents. Get rid of the privileges and you get rid of all those professions that feast on them, from lawyer to banker. Instead of grant privileges to insiders, what should government do? Defend rights. And no right is more basic than your right to a portion of Earth, of a Earth in a healthy condition, plus a share of her worth. If society as a whole were to share those values of sites and resources -- and forget all about taxing and subsidizing -- then certain professions would not seek those natural rents. And you can start by shifting your property tax in your locality off buildings, onto locations. Lawyers might not be too happy but everyone else will.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

The Barons are Back In Britain - Did They Ever Leave?

No Matter Who Wins, Americans Lose, Usually

10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

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