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International Journal of the Legal Profession

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This paper considers how US courts, which regulate the US legal profession, should respond to the perceived excess of lawyers (i.e. to the lack of adequate employment opportunities for lawyers). It begins by summarizing the courts’ regulatory role. It then situates the contemporary flood-of-lawyers problem in the unavailability of well-paid legal work, not in the absence of a need for lawyers’ services: many people need lawyers, but they cannot afford them. Next, the paper explores whether the problem is simply a product of natural economic fluctuation which will be solved naturally, particularly if potential law school applicants become better informed, and suggests that the problem is at least in part an artificial product of professional regulation. Finally, the paper explores possible regulatory solutions, concluding with the possibility of eliminating lawyers who perform adequate but lowest-quality work. It concludes that using regulatory means of lowering the tide of lawyers is not viable.