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Contesting professionalism: legal aid and non lawyers in England and Wales

Paterson, Alan and Moorhead, R. and Sherr, A. (2003) Contesting professionalism: legal aid and non lawyers in England and Wales. Law and Society Review, 37 (4). pp. 765-808. ISSN 0023-9216

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Abstract

Professions are granted a form of cartel that enables them to charge more than would arise in a free market on the assumption that they provide better quality and are more trustworthy than free-market actors would be. The theoretical assumption that lawyers are more competent than nonlawyers has given rise to significant formal protections for professions in many jurisdictions. Two testable propositions arise from this theory: (1) lawyers cost more, but (2) they deliver higher quality. It is a testing of these twin propositions that is the subject of this article, with well-triangulated data and a deeper understanding of the theoretical differences between lawyers and nonlawyers.