Sunday, February 22, 2009

There's A Positive Side Of The Lawyer Recession?

I don't wonder how lawyers went from respected members of society to just above used car salesman, or is it below?

I may be wrong, but I believe the demise of lawyers came with the attraction to the profession by money hungry college students. Laugh if you will, but the popularity of LA Law drove thousands of applications to law schools around the country. Three years of school, BigLaw job, BigLaw office, mahogany furniture, BigLaw artwork, swank restaurants, exciting clients and office politics, and a ton of cash. Oh yeah, and some research, work, and sweat. But I digress.

Throw in advertising with the thousands of lawyers in the practice today that see law as a means to cash, and you get cut throat competition, stupid lawsuits, bad press, and other reports of lawyers doing idiotic things.

I went to law school during this "LA Law" time, the early nineties. Thankfully none of the BigLaw recruiters would schedule me for an interview, and I "had" to fulfill my desire to be a criminal defense lawyer by going to the public defender's office.

So I look at this recession. I read daily about the "lawyers" at BigLaw being laid off. The solo real estate lawyers and other small firm lawyers who find themselves with a non-paying client list, are going away quietly, or working on matters they know little about.

I cannot imagine being a lawyer, going through a total of 19 years of education, being plucked out of school for a plum job, and a few years, or 10 years, or at any time, being told "goodbye."

Obviously the first thought is to get a job. Bills, have to be paid.

The troubling thought most often with BigLaw layoffs is "what can I do?"

Working on pieces of cases, sitting on westlaw or lexis, outlining depositions, do not make a practitioner. A practitioner takes a client and handles their case from start to finish. BigLaw avoids teaching that process. When you have 4 lawyers on a case, it's hard to understand the whole picture.

In my opinion, the positive side of this lawyer recession is that those that entered the profession without any desire to be a "lawyer," may leave.

I say go, do something else.

If you're only desire is to make money, make it elsewhere. Start a business. Let's see if a clearing out of non-committed tools (and maybe many of them didn't strive to be that in the first place, but let it happen) helps raise the image of lawyers a bit.

Law is a business, now, because it has become that. It used to be a profession, with professionals committed to justice, individual rights, and resolving disputes.

Maybe we can get back to that.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Please visit



Donna said...

I never considered the LA Law angle, but it sure makes sense. I've posted a link to this posting in the comments to a blog entry I made last week on similar content:

Christopher G. Hill said...


Good thoughts all. After a few years in the VA Attorney General's Office actually talking to people and trying cases, the other aspects became clear. Skills need to be honed and taught and law school doesn't do that. I think that US News law school rankings also play into it.

South Florida Lawyers said...

Here here, well said.