14 Docket Call 1 (1979-1980)

handle is hein.journals/dcktcll14 and id is 1 raw text is: SECTION OF GENERAL..PRACTICE AMERICAN BRASSOCIATION *VOL XIV * NO. 1* SPRING 1979
are we heading toward federal
regulation of the legal profession?
Marc A. Comras*

I suspect the title of my presentation is a shocker
to most segments of the bar. To traditionalists it
represents an unthinkable threat to the professional
autonomy and self-discipline of the bar. To state bar
officials it may sound like federal arrogance to be
defended against under the inherent and benign right
of the state to regulate its own bar. To activists and
radicals in the bar it represents a likely prospect of
overreaction that will only stall movements for need-
ed reform in red tape and the ponderous bureaucratic
Federal regulation of anything is an awesome
thing, suggesting the creation of yet another mon-
umental building in Washington adorned by impres-
sive shields and symbols. This one would probably
be called the Federal Bar Regulatory Commission, or
for short, FEBARECOM-thousands of 9-to-5 federal
employees moving in and out digesting reports of
lawyers' advertising, and issuing detailed regulations
as to clients' rights and lawyers' obligations.
That, of course, is a grotesque exaggeration. I in no
way propose that the practice of law should or can be
regulated in a fashion similar to the securities in-
dustry or banking, or other regulated segments of the
economy. I must state that I speak only as a staff
member of the Federal Trade Commission. My views
* Marc A. Comras served until mid-January as managing
attorney of the Federal Trade Commission's Alternative
Legal Delivery Systems Investigation in Boston. At that
time, the probe was moved to the FTC's Cleveland office.
The remarks here, based on an address to the ABA Commis-
sion on Advertising, are reprinted with permission from Bar
Leader, March-April 1979 issue.
Copyright @ 1979 American Bar Association

are my own and do not necessarily reflect FTC policy
nor the views of any of its members or other officials.
What I am suggesting is that there are winds of
change in the legal profession. Indeed there are in-
dications of change that may go to the very roots of
our legal system and have profound implications for
the traditional dispute settlement process. The
federal government, in one way or another, is likely to
have a role in these changes.
ftc activities
Let me proceed a little more narrowly by telling you
what my agency-the Federal Trade Commission-is
doing and how our immediate activities may relate to
the interests of the bar.
Several years ago the FTC began looking at the
ways by which state regulation might be inhibiting
competition in various occupational areas. One of the
early results of this activity was a report condemning
activities by state-sanctioned licensing boards that
prevented price advertising of prescription drugs by
pharmacists. More recently the commission issued a
Trade Regulation Rule against state prohibitions on
price advertising for prescription eyeglasses.
A number of similar investigations have been
opened, involving the occupational licensing of vari-
ous professional activities by the states. This work is
being done largely through the commission's region-
al offices, resulting in major investigations being
conducted from FTC regional offices throughout the
country. These include dentists-San Francisco; vet-
eri narians- Denver; real estate brokers-Los Ange-
les; accountants-Chicago; and lawyers- Boston.
continued on page 17
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