Law’s Information Revolution

Cite this Article
Larry Ribstein, Law’s Information Revolution, Truth on the Market (January 12, 2011),

For several months I’ve been threatening to unleash a new article that discusses the future of the law business, following the Death of Big Law.  See my earlier posts on “law entrepreneurs” and “owning the law.”

The day has at last arrived.  The article is now called “Law’s Information Revolution,” co-authored by Bruce Kobayashi, and on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract.

Lawyers traditionally have conveyed legal expertise in the form of advice tailored to the needs of individual clients. This business model is reinforced by licensing and ethical rules designed to ensure the lawyer’s competence and loyalty to the client’s interests. The traditional professional model is being challenged by the sale of legal information to impersonal product and capital markets. This article provides a theoretical intellectual property framework for the regulatory decisions that must be made as the two models collide. We show that traditional professional regulation inhibits full development of the new business model by limiting intellectual property protection for legal information. This regulation assumes consumers will continue to get legal information in one-to-one relationships with lawyers where they have little ability to evaluate the advice they are receiving. However, a fully developed legal information market could provide some of the protection consumers now receive from licensing and ethical rules without the current model’s costs of restricting the supply and raising the costs of legal services. We apply our analysis to some actual and potential markets in legal information.

Read it while it’s hot.