No, legal academics don’t usually come right out and say this, but Hazel Weiser, executive director of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), did say it as part of a discussion of the woes of new law graduates in a slow hiring market:
Rather than deregulate the legal profession, which is notoriously bad at self‐policing, the best way to get more jobs for these unemployed recent graduates is to up regulation, not do away with it. Another op ed piece, “It’s Consumer Spending, Stupid” dated October 25, 2011, by James Livingston, a professor of history at Rutgers, puts it perfectly: “…private investment — that is, using business profits to increase productivity and output — doesn’t actually drive economic growth. Consumer debt and government spending do. Private investment isn’t even necessary to promote growth.” Government spending means regulation as well as bridges and tunnels. Let’s hire these young attorneys to enforce the laws of the land!
In a similar vein, note this blog post by University of Michigan law professor Sam Bagenstos, a leading disabled‐rights expert who served in the Obama administration until last year as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, the number two official in the Civil Rights Division. Commenting on a report that the city of Mobile, Alabama, was preparing to spend $146,000 to comply with new federal rules governing its public swimming pools, Prof. Bagenstos ran the item under the headline “New ADA Regs: Job Creators.” (Update: It was a joke, he says.)
Next time you read about some daffy new idea out of Washington, keep in mind that there’s a whole school of thought out there that, faced with a choice between a mild and a stringent regulatory option, imagines that by going with the more stringent Washington can create more jobs. It explains a lot.