• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court promoted price competition in legal services when it held that the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 prohibited state bar associations from setting minimum fees for legal services.

The Virginia Bar Association enforced minimum fee schedules for services set by the county bar associations. Lawyers were threatened with disciplinary action for regularly charging less than the posted fees. The Goldfarbs sued the state bar association for illegal price fixing after they were unable to find a lawyer to perform a real estate title examination for less than the minimum rate. Speaking for an 8-0 majority, Chief Justice Warren E. BurgerBurger, Warren E.;Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar[Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar] upheld the challenge and rejected the association’s contention that the Sherman Antitrust Act did not apply to the “learned professions.” He noted that many of the funds for purchasing homes came from other states, and therefore, the issue fell under the purview of the commerce clause. The Goldfarb decision was primarily significant in regard to relatively routine legal services.Sherman Antitrust ActAntitrust law;Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar[Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar]Sherman Antitrust Act

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