Privatizing Professional Licensing Boards: Self-Governance or Self-Interest?


Political Science and International Affairs

Document Type


Publication Date



Because professional licensing boards represent nondemocratic elements in a political system founded on democratic principles, their legitimacy has been questioned in recent years. This article examines legal and medical licensing boards in three states—Georgia, California, and Massachusetts—to determine whether developments in those states suggest a trend toward appointing citizen members to boards. The article concludes that although public acceptance of licensing boards might improve in the wake of appointing citizen members, such a cosmetic change does not necessarily ensure that the “public interest” is protected. Only when the private interests of democratically selected citizen board members are balanced against the private interests of professional board members will concerns about the legitimacy of licensing boards possibly be assuaged.