August 29, 2007
Kritzer on 'Not Lawyering Up' Due to Income and Kind of Case: Some Counterintuitive Empirical Results In the US and Five Other Legal Cultures
Posted by Alan Childress
Herbert Kritzer (Wm. Mitchell) has posted to SSRN's LAW & SOC.: LEGAL PROF. journal his paper, "To Lawyer, or Not to Lawyer, Is That the Question?" (August 2007). Here is Bert's abstract:
A central aspect of much of the debate over access to justice is the cost of legal services. The presumption of most participants in the debate is that individuals of limited or modest means do not obtain legal assistance because they cannot afford the cost of that assistance. The question I consider in this paper is whether income is a major factor in the decision to obtain the assistance of a qualified legal professional. Drawing upon data from five different countries (the United States, England and Wales, Canada, Australia, and Japan), I examine the relationship between income and using a legal professional. The results are remarkably consistent across the five countries: income has relatively little relationship with the decision to use a legal professional to deal with a dispute or other legal need. The decision to use a lawyer appears to be much more a function of the nature of the dispute. Even those who could afford to retain a lawyer frequently make the decision to forego that assistance. The analysis suggests that those considering access to justice issues need to grapple with the more general issues of how those with legal needs, regardless of the resources they have available, evaluate the costs and benefits of hiring a lawyer.
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