An Antitrust Analysis of Professional Licensing Explored in Article by Analysis Group Experts

July 09, 2018

Nearly 30 percent of US jobs require a professional license. While such licensing may promote higher professional standards, it may also reduce competition in the market and limit employment opportunities. Balancing the two becomes especially problematic when a licensing board's self-interest does not align with the public interest. In the dual context of (1) the 2015 US Supreme Court's decision in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, which clarified the circumstances under which state licensing boards are immune from federal antitrust laws, and (2) new technologies disrupting the current order, professional licensing has been back in the spotlight.

In an article in Cartel & Joint Conduct Review: Newsletter of the ABA Section of Antitrust Law Joint Conduct Committee, Analysis Group Principal Samuel Weglein, Manager Juliette Caminade, and Associate Alex Robinson explore professional licensing from an antitrust perspective. They begin by summarizing North Carolina Dental Board and other cases related to occupational licensing, and then review recent responses by the Federal Trade Commission, US Department of Justice, and state legislatures. Finally, the authors discuss recent economic research that can help inform the issues surrounding this interconnection of antitrust and licensing issues.

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