A subsidiary question that Jones doesn't address, however, is whether we should be concerned about people opting into less-lucrative careers. It seems to me that having smart, ambitious, hardworking people become lawyers is a huge waste. When Apple and Google compete to produce the best smartphone operating system, consumers win as products improve. But while there's presumably some level of lawyerly incompetence that would be socially problematic, at the margin, big firms getting better and better at suing one other doesn't help anyone. By the same token, it's good to have deep and liquid financial markets, but we're clearly past the point where extra expenditure of engineering talent on devising better and faster high-frequency trading algorithms is anything other than a Red Queen's Race.to which I comment
Looking at the productivity of lawyers and judges, it's important to consider the statistics. It's all very well to say that quality doesn't matter, but 500 years of uninterrupted measurement have shown that while if really top talent is involved client satisfaction rates, summed across both sides, can rise as high as 50%, the same transaction could in incompetent hands result in client satisfaction plummeting as low as 50%. Are we prepared to live with that?