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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Report Says North Carolina Needs More Lawyers

Triangle Business Journal

North Carolina needs more lawyers, and the state isn't doing a good enough job of ensuring that it gets them. That's the conclusion of a report released Tuesday by the Raleigh's Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, which says the state has fewer private sector lawyers per capita than any other.

Fast population growth and a strong economy have bolstered the need for barristers, the report says. But state restrictions limit the number of lawyers who can practice in the state.

Specifically, the report says, the state allows only graduates of law schools accredited by the American Bar Association to take the North Carolina bar exam. And without bar accreditation, a lawyer can't practice in the state.

"ABA accreditation severely limits the number of schools in the state, driving up tuition prices and keeping down the number of lawyers in the state," the report says. "Changes in current regulations could make legal education more affordable."

North Carolina is far from the only state that allows only students from ABA-accredited schools to take the bar exam. States that lack such restrictions, such as California, have many more law schools and many more potential lawyers. On the other hand, the bar exams in such states are typically tough in an effort to limit the number of practicing lawyers there.

The Pope Center's report, "Legal Education in North Carolina: A Report for Potential Students, Lawmakers and the Public," was written by University of Illinois professor Andrew P. Morriss and Indiana University professor William D. Henderson.