It seems to me that the reasoning that the article advocates could be applied equally well to other regulated professions such as medicine and engineering. For example, why require surgeons to have gone to medical school or be licensed doctors? It would be cheaper if anyone could just perform surgery without going to medical school - it would also create more jobs because more people would be "medical providers", right? Also, why require engineering school for people designing bridges? It would be a lot cheaper if anyone was allowed to do it, right? The medical and engineering fields have also be "operated as a monopoly" like the legal field, right?
Also, Hippocrates didn't go to a medical school, so obviously medical schools are a waste of time. Also, Archimedes didn't go to engineering school, so obviously engineering school is also unnecessary and just a way to drive up cost.
Yikes. I'm a big believer in lessening unnecessary regulation, but the bottom line is that for jobs that could really "mess someone up" if done wrong, society has an interest in trying to make sure that the people who will be performing the job are going to do it right. Today, that typically involves a formalized educational process and an examination (not that that could not be adjusted to include an apprenticeship as well). Is that a guarantee that the person will never screw up? No, but I don't think that anyone would disagree with the proposition that education and testing decrease the number of screw-ups over not having education and testing.
We have an interest in making sure surgeons know what they are doing before they start cutting and that engineers know what they are doing before they start building. We even license such professions as cosmetologists (before we allow them to perform acid peels on people) and morticians (perhaps because of the emotional rather than physical harm of having one's parent's corpse decompose or be treated poorly, for example.)
To take the reasoning of the article to the next stage, why not let anyone drive a car? Who needs driver's licenses? Who needs classes or examination? It's a monopoly on the ability to be a driver, I tells ya! They didn't require a driver's license in 1911, so obviously a driver's license is unnecessary! Without the driver's license, there would be more drivers (such as those under 16) and it would lower the cost for driving school!
Obviously, that's ridiculous. More specifically, just about everyone would agree that such a proposition appears ridiculous right away. However, why aren't people also equally able to immediately apprehend the ridiculousness of the law school proposition?
I think that it may stem from a basic misunderstanding of what lawyers do and an inability to see the consequences of failure. For example, why don't we let unlicensed people perform surgery? Because the patient is likely to get hurt. Same for engineering- because in the event of a collapse, people are likely to be hurt. Ditto for driver's licenses - people are likely to be hurt. In each case, the harm is physical and is capable of instant recognition - it's easy to see when someone is bleeding or dead.
However, with law the "hurt" may be less easy to see. What if you are accused of a crime you did not commit, but your unlicensed counsel is unable to defend you adequately because they don't know what they are doing and you are convicted? You get thrown in jail for something that you did not do, but here the jury found you "guilty" - and everyone knows guilty people should go to jail, so where is the harm? Where is the bleeding body? Answer - it's there, but its tougher to see due to the seperation of the process into discrete events.
Also, I think that some people may ignore this situation becuase they feel that "the truth will come out" or that the "right thing" will just automatically happen. However, this is just magical thinking - and we have many examples of it not being true in practice, even with the requirements of training and licensure which can reduce, but not eliminate, wrongful results.
As another example, what if your contract is drafted wrong and it leaves you on the hook for liability that you did not intend? Magical thinkers may respond with something like "won't the court just fix it?" Ditto if you write a will, but it is defective and your assets go to someone you did not intend.
In short, 1) the "hurt" is typically more to a person's "rights" rather than to a person's body - which is a less visible harm, 2) people assume that everything will always go completely right and thus lawyers are not necessary, and 3) there is significant misunderstanding about what lawyers actually do and how our justice/dispute resolution system works.
ATL also has a post on this -and has a killer comment: "Winston says that legal professionals are the one resisting his changes, but actually common sense is Winston’s biggest enemy." Love it!
Also some good thoughts about this on Law School Tuition Bubble.