Shake has joined a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief highlighting the need for antitrust oversight in protecting the public’s right to access affordable legal services.
The brief was filed in connection with the case The North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission. At issue is whether regulatory bodies such as state bar associations – controlled by private market participants often with limited state oversight – can be held liable for anticompetitive behavior as private actors, or if they are exempt from federal antitrust law as part of the state’s regulatory apparatus. Shake supports the FTC’s position, upheld in the Fourth Circuit, that federal antitrust law applies.
Here at Shake, we know that a vast number of Americans cannot afford the legal help they need. We believe they deserve more affordable and accessible options. In any industry, including the law, it’s problematic when existing players wield relatively unfettered regulatory authority to exclude competitors – actual or perceived. We believe this has a chilling effect on innovation, discourages new market entrants and ultimately harms consumers.
As a provider of self-help software to facilitate the completion, execution and management of form contracts, Shake does not practice law or give legal advice. However, making the law accessible, understandable and affordable for consumers and small businesses is central to our mission.
The brief states in part, “[M]any state bar associations…are controlled by active practitioners who may have a direct financial self-interest in maintaining restrictions on who can practice law and how they can do so, and in defining the scope of that monopoly broadly.” The brief further states, “[S]tate bar associations routinely operate without active state supervision and may seek to limit competition from alternative legal services providers.”
The brief was joined by Shake, LegalZoom.com, Inc., and a number of alternative legal information and service providers as well as a group of prominent law professors. The case is scheduled for argument before the Supreme Court on October 14, 2014.