Regulate This

Most people today are employees who drive cars and get married. Most people today deal with law only when they are fired, ticketed, or divorced. (It’s nice that the vast majority of people never interact with the criminal justice system.) So most access-to-justice issues have to do with employment, personal injury/traffic, and family law. This is because these are the main three areas of social complexity and government regulation in most people’s lives. When there is no complexity or regulation, there are few access-to-justice issues because there is no need for lawyers.

Tomorrow, most people will be freelancers (the gig economy) riding autonomous cars (Uber/Lyft) and hooking up with short-term partners (Tinder). Ask your nearest millennial.

What does it mean for law and access to justice? No notice period/severance calculation or job termination disputes, no accidents or traffic/parking tickets, no divorces.

Silicon Valley technology companies will insulate most people from complexity/regulation. They will end the access-to-justice debate because few people will enter into relationships that pose a high risk of complex disputes and the resulting need for professional adjudication.

I am not saying it’s good or bad. But it’s happening already.

Comments

  1. What about estate planning? Complex income tax law, family law issues for blended families and estate administration issues can be addressed by an estate planning lawyer. There is plenty of complexity in estate planning.

  2. Robert, great point. Estate planning is another complex area of law. It is related to one trend that I haven’t mentioned: most people will either rent/share property or own property indirectly through securities. But I would imagine even now most people’s estates are fairly straightforward.

    There is a huge incentive for tech startups to build products that hide complexity in return for acceptable compromises (no mortgage/real estate/estate/tax headaches in return for giving up the owner status). If we see complexity somewhere, there is a good chance that someone is working on a technology to insulate masses from this complexity.

    I am talking only about the average person, not about the top 1% with complex relationships related to ownership and operation of businesses or large and diverse property holdings.