In one of her most recent posts, Bar Association Enters the 21st Century, Carolyn ‘I supported Avvo all along’ Elefant takes a breathtaking intuitive leap, proclaiming that (hold onto your hats) lawyers may be slightly behind the curve when it comes to technology. No, it’s true. She’s out there. Here’s how Carolyn put it
Lawyers have been using the Internet for a decade, and even the most unsophisticated consumers have had Internet access at home for at least five years. … a directory that would enable consumers to find lawyers online should have seemed like a logical project for bar associations — which purport to serve the public by helping increase access to law. The bars did little to provide lawyers with ways to list themselves online and, consequently Avvo stepped in to fill this void
Powerful stuff. Sadly however Carolyn has it all wrong.
By not putting together a decent referral system on the web (ed. note: Carolyn’s post says that the first such bar association system may be online now) Bar Associations have not dropped the ball or missed an opportunity to serve, any more than Avvo has stepped into their inadvertent breach. On the contrary, what we are watching right now is the unraveling of one of the last monopolies baked into American law — the Bar Association. Let there be no doubt then: Bar Associations do indeed exist to serve … themselves. And like every bureaucracy since the invention of bureaucracy (thank you Emile Durkheim) bar associations large and small perpetuate themselves by keeping information about, and communication between, members to a minimum. It’s that simple. If lawyers can’t find each other they can’t get together and cause trouble. Divide and conquer – as far as strategies go, it’s an oldie but a goodie.
Remember, ego administer proinde ego sum. I administrate, therefore I am. Take away the Bar Association’s power to control information and regulate free assembly, and you take away its power … period. No bureaucracy ever let that happen voluntarily. No, what we are seeing is that the nation’s Bar Associations held on to their role as the sole arbiters of right and wrong, keepers of the sacred flame, for as long as they could.
And now that their monopoly is looking shoddy and dated, will this old, tired, dog learn new tricks? Come on … what do you think?