Monday, May 9, 2011

Bad News: To Remain In The Profession, You Have To Love The Law

It shouldn't shock me that the headline of Brad Kane's piece in the Hartford Business Journal read "Profession In Turmoil"

Why is the profession in turmoil?

The price of admission is up and interest in being a lawyer is down. The passion that once marked the profession is fading in the face of business pressures as law firms race to be the biggest and most comprehensive, judging lawyers’ value on the revenue they generate.

That's a long answer for: people are getting in to the profession to make money, not to be advocates.

I say that all the time. Some tell me I'm wrong. Others tell me I'm right, and insist that this is the reason everyone becomes lawyers and they don't know anyone who became a lawyer because they wanted to be a lawyer - because the only reason to become a lawyer is to make money.

Something like that.

But I love to see that it's not just me, as others would make be believe, that thinks a slew of law students in the 90's and through present time went to law school for one reason:

Lawyering used to be a profession. Now, over the course of time, it has become just a business,” said Bill Crowe, partner at Hartford law firm Mayo Crowe. “A lot of people are disillusioned because they go to law school thinking they are getting into this dynamic, lucrative career; and they’ve come to realize that often they are just pushing papers around.

The large role money plays in today’s legal market undermines the profession’s higher goals, said Lee Hoffman, a member of Hartford law firm Pullman & Comley LLC. The first job of a lawyer is to make someone’s legal problem their own. The second job is to be an adviser. Once the profession becomes about the paycheck, those tasks are hard to fulfill.

And here's the knife in the heart:

Although the pay is high compared to other professions — the median starting salary for a 2010 University of Connecticut School of Law graduate was $75,000 — a law degree does not lead to a cushy lifestyle. Other professions such as entrepreneur or investment banker are more lucrative with a lower demand on time.

"More lucrative." "Lower demand on time." Now I have the attention of the slacksoisie. See, you don't have to become a lawyer to make money - go, do something else. Get out of the profession. Leave us advocates to try and bring it back up to par - go start a business or become a stockbroker. Just go.

It's already happening, your friends are going elsewhere:

After a significant jump in law school applications in 2009 and 2010, law school applications dropped 11.1 percent nationwide this year. Connecticut’s three law schools — at Yale University, University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University — saw a 17 percent drop in applications in 2011.


Those people who thought earning a law degree would lead to riches are taking a much broader scope and thinking about if it is going to pay off,” said Karen Lynn DeMeola, UConn School of Law assistant dean for admissions and student finance.

So take that "much broader scope," think about the long hard days of working in a profession that you never wanted to enter but for the cash.

Passion is what keeps lawyers in the profession, said Jeff White, associate at Robinson & Cole and chairman of the Connecticut Bar Association Young Lawyers Section.


Look it up.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark


Brian Cuban said...

You're absolutely right, I don't, and never did.

Brian Tannebaum said...

It's interesting Brian how many lawyers are unwilling to admit they hate the practice/profession. I don't know why lawyers only define themselves by practicing law. Plenty of lawyers are doing other things (and some are trying to convince the world they are still practicing lawyers).

My wife is one of those smart people who went to law school because it was there. She got a BigLaw job for a couple years, then worked for a solo.

When people ask her why she doesn't practice, she says "I hated it."

David Fuller said...

You have to love the law to sit through a three hour arraignment calendar just to say "The defendant pleads not guilty, waives reading of the complaint, and stipulates to probable cause for purposes of release but reserves the right to object for all other purposes."

Also, if you're a new lawyer in a solo practice, without a mentor in sight, pay attention during that 3 hour calendar. It's the only place to learn the grunt work of criminal defense. It's what I did and still do.

Anonymous said...

we are service providers. glorified waiters and butlers and personal assistants. we have nothing more than our good judgment to make us "marketable." those of us who survive, thrive and are happy, love what we do, regard the law as an honorable profession and our reward comes from within , the money that follows an additonal reward. those who viewed lawyering as a means to a wealthy end, deserve their unhappiness, failure or incarceration.

damn, i sound like you. that's fucking scary

Brian Cuban said...

If I had to do it over again, I would not go. I was a criminal justice major and wanted to be a cop. That was my passion.I even applied to the Dallas Police Dept. when I moved here out of law school. Never followed through. Now it's too late.