Monday, December 12, 2011

Markets in Everything: eBay of Lawyering

The Tax Prof blog features a Chronicle of Higher Education story (paid subscription required) about Shpoonkle,  a "matchmaking Web site where recent law graduates could hone their legal skills by bidding alongside other lawyers for clients seeking affordable counsel." Shpoonkle operates as "a reverse-auction site where potential clients describe legal problems and lawyers bid to see who can solve them for the lowest price."

Lawyer Scott Greenfield is not a Shpoonkle ("the eBay of lawyering") fan  and writes on his Simple Justice blog: "The name is absolutely awful.  The concept far worse."

9 Comments:

At 12/12/2011 11:39 AM, Blogger Cabodog said...

Elance has offered this ability for a few years now. Not only for legal, but programming, design and other freelance work.

We've had pretty good results from Elance.

 
At 12/12/2011 11:59 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Let's go whole-hog and delicense lawyers entirely.

More than half of law school grads are women. This profession is nothing but glorified clerks.

With de-licensing would come simplified contracts and law. We could go back to running businesses, not lawyering.

Lawyers are like glaziers, who throw rocks through each other's clients windows.

 
At 12/12/2011 12:08 PM, Blogger Marko said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 12/12/2011 12:23 PM, Blogger Marko said...

Speaking as a lawyer, I don't see what is wrong with this auction service. For most routine matters, clients pick a name out of a hat anyway, at least this way they are getting a random lawyer for cheap. Why not let the market work? If you want the cheapest lawyer you can get, there should be a way to find him.

Benji, I am curious, do you want to "de-license" doctors too? There is something to be said for minimum competence tests when you are putting your life or fortune in someone else's hands. I might be for allowing people to practice without a licence, but at minimum private licencing seems like a good idea when hiring a professional.

As for simplifying contracts, you don't need a lawyer to draft your contract now. You can write it yourself, you just can't hire someone else to draft it (or otherwise represent you) if they are not licensed. Feel free to draft your own stuff! You know what they say about people that represent themselves . . .

 
At 12/12/2011 12:26 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

bunny-

while i am all for all professional licensing being voluntary (credentialing as opposed to licensing) i really do not see how the rest of your argument follows at all.

how does "de-licensing simplify contracts and law"?

seems to me that if anyone could sue anyone just by submitting court papers, we'd get a flood of opportunistic, badly thought out suits, need even tighter and more carefully written contracts to keep from running afoul of them, and basically give everyone rock throwing privileges with no ability at all for censure (like losing a law license) opening a pandora's box of misbehavior and bad ethics.

so how do you get from de licensing leading to less lawyering?

seems to me could would more likely get just the opposite and the whole thing would go bare knuckle as opposed to marquis of queensbury.

 
At 12/12/2011 12:34 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

marko-

"do you want to "de-license" doctors too? There is something to be said for minimum competence tests when you are putting your life or fortune in someone else's hands. I might be for allowing people to practice without a licence, but at minimum private licencing seems like a good idea when hiring a professional."

i think you make an argument for credentialing, not licensing.

i have no issue with government or industry credentials (like board certification for doctors)..

but i do take issue with the issuer of such a credential being able to tell anyone else they cannot practice/compete.

you, the consumer, should be able to decide whether or not you think using a board certified podiatrist is worth it/a good idea/etc.

this leaves power with the customer, not with a guild.

it also keeps the guild honest.

allowing foxes to license henhouse raiding tends to lead to too few raiders and thus overpricing.

we see this everywhere from law to healthcare to interior design or getting your nails done.

i don't really see an persuasive argument for giving power to the guilds as opposed to the customers. why let a guild tell you if you can or cannot do interior design?

clearly, credentialing has more value some places than others (eg i'd be much more interested in the certification of an anesthesiologist than a masseuse) but i think that should be for the customer to decide, not some unelected, self interested guild master.

 
At 12/12/2011 6:17 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Marko-

Since when are doctors equal to lawyers?

Should we license people who fix your automobile brakes? You life depends on them too. How about people who repair heavy machinery? Crossing guards? Security guards? Food prep workers?

If we license everybody who could inflict harm, soon we will license everybody in the country. I guess we do license every in the country, if you read this blog enough.

Surely lawyers are not worthy of state licensing. My life is not threatened when I hire a bad lawyer.

As for Morgan's rantings, they are worthy of a lawyer, not a productive member of society.

There is such a thing as binding arbitration. Sans fancy lawyers, people would devise simple contracts, and disputes resolved in arbitration.

Aside from lawyers to defend civil rights against the state, other lawyers have become parasites, protected by a court system and licensing.

 
At 12/12/2011 11:00 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Cabodog:
Exception, not rule.

Elance is asking for something to be screwed up. That, and it skews itself heavily against the First World. Now if it kept the First and Third Worlds separate, there might be some redemption.

 
At 12/13/2011 10:01 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"There is such a thing as binding arbitration. Sans fancy lawyers, people would devise simple contracts, and disputes resolved in arbitration. "

bunny, that's stupid even for you.

arbitration fixes nothing, it's just another field on which to contest, and a far less predictable one.

you think that if i use a lawyer to draft a contract and to enforce it under arbitration and you don;t and come and represent yourself you won't get run over?

are you really that naive?

BA already exists. people use lawyers to draft those contracts. they need to be drafted MORE carefully, not less. you need to spell out exactly what you mean and all the contingencies as you cannot count on an arbitrator knowing the law.

such contracts are more, not less complex.

as ever, you are unable to answer even a basic question about your bizarre rantings.

you really ought to try and get some idea of what you are talking about before you open your pie hole.

then things like this would not happen to you all the time.

 

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