RESTRICTIVE PRACTICES, TRAINING AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION IN SCOTLAND†

Publication Date01 August 1983
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9485.1983.tb01021.x
AuthorAdrian Ziderman
Scorrrrh
Journalo/Polmcal
Economy,
Vol.
30, No.
2.
Novembcr
1983
0
1983
Scottish
Economc
Society
RESTRICTIVE PRACTICES, TRAINING AND
THE LEGAL PROFESSION
IN
SCOTLAND?
ADRIAN
ZIDERMAN
Bar-llan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
The view is widely held that professional associations engage in a variety of
restrictive practices. The legal profession, too, has not escaped criticism,
concerning such restrictive practices as maintaining a professional code of
behavior that acts to restrict competition within the profession (Lees, 1966)
and occupational licencing (Seibert, 1977). Similarly, Mulvey, in a recent paper
in
this Journal, suggests entry restrictions through occupational licencing as
an explanation of the high average rates ofreturn that he estimates for the legal
profession in Scotland (Mulvey, 1980). The low earnings
of
apprentices in the
legal profession (or articled clerks, in England) may be seen as a further
manifestation of this phenomenon, in
so
far as it discourages entry into the
profession. The Coopers and Lybrand survey of solicitors firms
in
Scotland
(published
in
the Appendix volume accompanying the Royal Commission on
Legal Services in Scotland, 1980 and which forms the basis for Mulvey’s rates
of return estimates) provides confirmatory evidence on the low level of legal
apprenticeship earnings.
In this paper, a more agnostic approach is adopted. In Section I
it
is argued
that Mulvey’s method of estimating rates of return to the legal profession
(notably the solicitor branch) is faulty; hence, the existence of high rates of
return has yet to be demonstrated. In Section
I1
an alternative (or com-
plementary) explanation of low legal apprenticeship earnings is presented, in
the form
of
Becker’s theory of on-the-job training (Becker, 1975).
I
Mulvey’s estimates of rates of return to the legal profession in Scotland,
based upon incomes data for the various sections of the profession, arise from
the work of the Royal Commission on Legal Services. The availability of age
earnings data on unqualified legal assistants (ULAs) provides Mulvey with
the opportunity to utilize the ULAs as the reference group for the estimation of
the private rates of return
on
human capital investment in the solicitor and
advocate professions. Mulvey claims this procedure to be a considerable
improvement on earlier methods. In this section it is suggested that the use of
t
Support provided
by
the Wolfson Chair in Business and Economics, Bar-Ilan University,
Date
of
receipt
of
final manuscript
:
1
March
1983.
is gratefully acknowledged.
295

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