What, if anything, is wrong with this idea?
Given that the legal profession is already heavily regulated, and given that socialised provision already exists in the form of legal aid, why should we tolerate the practice of receiving money in return for legal respresentation?
(Obviously the ideal would be to ‘socialise’, with ‘nationalise’ being the slightly perverted statist version of that, but it makes a catchier title so nevermind)
The legal system is already, in almost all other areas, publically run and funded – judges don’t get paid by plaintiffs, police aren’t paid by victims of crime, prisons aren’t run for profit, are they?
(Well actually, half the time they are – private security companies, privatised prisons, that case where the privatised prison paid the judge to sentence young offenders to incarceration, etc. But we have a sneaking suspicion that this isn’t actually the best way to run a justice system)
So surely it’s appalling that those able to hire better lawyers enjoy such an advantage. Surely it’s absurd that the rich can afford to go to court, can afford to seek legal redress, and the poor can’t. Why not have a legal system which is designed from the ground up to exclude financial considerations as much as possible from its workings? Rather like the NHS, an NLS.
Note though, that unlike with public schools and public hospitals, it wouldn’t be any good to have a public sector and a private sector co-existing – the whole point of lawyers is that they operate against each other, so if one sector can pay more, and get better lawyers, it will dominate the other, and wealth would still grant a big advantage. So it would have to be complete – evidence that a client has paid their representative would be grounds for disqualifying that representative.
1) Lawyers will have no incentive to try hard to win cases. The natural response would be, give them incentives, possibly monetary incentives, to win, as well as incentives to take on more cases, especially cases that nobody else has taken on. Is there a major flaw in this?
2) People will be able to waste time on frivolous lawsuits if they don’t have to bear the burden themselves. To this the first response would have to be that currently, only the sufficiently rich have the luxury of frivolous lawsuits, and that’s not obviously better.
But more seriously, it’s not obvious why there could be no other way of ‘rationing’ access to courts. Cases can be dismissed, waiting lists can be introduced, etc.
On both counts, I must confess my substantial ignorance of how the law actually works. But I would also say firstly, that neither problem seems particularly insoluble to me, and secondly, that it’s not at all obvious that if they were insoluble, they would be more serious problems than the problem of access to ‘justice’ being a product of wealth.
So have I missed some obvious fact or flaw?