Grantee Research

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



bar performance impact, lawyer discipline, occupational licensing


I investigate the types of occupational licensing requirements that protect the public. To do so, I employ professional discipline as a measure of potential harm and exploit considerable state-level variation in distinctive licensing requirements for American lawyers. Using novel data from 34 states between 1984 and 2019, I find evidence suggesting that the only requirements that reduce harm are those that restrict entry for certain high-risk individuals. Even with these requirements, however, it takes over a decade following licensing for any noticeable reduction in harm to materialize, and the cumulative impact on harm reduction is small in absolute terms.