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Licensing Knowledge

Posted by on Saturday, March 30, 2019 in Articles, Volume 72, Volume 72, Number 2.


When professionals give advice, they disseminate professional knowledge to their clients. Professional advice is valuable to clients because they gain access to a body of knowledge they do not otherwise possess. To preserve the accuracy, and hence the value, of this knowledge transfer, the First Amendment should protect professional speech against state interference that seeks to alter the content of professional advice in a way that contradicts professional knowledge. But before professionals can give professional advice, they are routinely subject to licensing by the state. This seemingly creates a tension between state involvement in professional licensing and protection against state involvement in professional speech.

This Article provides a theoretical framework to reconcile professional speech protection with professional licensing. Under this theory, the interests underlying First Amendment protection of professional speech and those underlying state licensing are the same: preserving the reliability of expert knowledge by guarding professionals’ competence and protecting the dissemination of reliable professional advice to the client.

Claudia E. Haupt