Where Have All the Lawyers Gone?

Applications are way down. Do you care?

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Comments (21)

(20) Rachel, March 10, 2013 2:28 AM

some other perspectives

See this article in NYT about law schools assisting grad
There is also an article in this month's ABA JOURNAL about lack of access to lawyers for the poor.

(19) Anonymous, March 4, 2013 10:22 PM

Right back at ya

There are too many psychotherapists out there and people should be able to deal with their problems themselves.

(18) Amhoretz, March 2, 2013 7:56 PM

Socioeconomic background is a huge factor in a lawyer's success.

As far back as the 1960s, i knew some people who became lawyers &--rather than striking it rich--got stuck in low-paying dead-end jobs. But I also knew rookie lawyers who did get very, very rich. Was it variations in competence that accounted for such discrepancies in their success? Surely this had something to do with it but, from my observations, the main factor was their parents' socioeconomic level. The lawyers fom poorer families got the hack jobs, mainly because they didn't have the social connections to bring new wealthy clients into the law firms that employed them. In some cases it was so bad that the financially disadvantaged new lawyer--after just a few years of poorly-paid ambulance chasing--quit the law profession, to go into teaching (hardly a well-paying profession), or selling. None of these ex-lawyers ever told me that their expensive law degree was, in any way, worth the cost & effort.

(17) Anonymous, March 2, 2013 5:45 PM

Spot-on, Rabbi!

I totally agree with you! There are far too many lawyers; they don't serve society well; and, they have helped put society into a declining spiral. The writings of attorney Philip K. Howard supports your proposition and conclusion.

(16) Rachel, February 28, 2013 10:06 PM

There are many places with too few lawyers

I'm a retired attorney. I went to law school because I wanted an interesting career at which I could make a difference -- and I found it, working in government. I didn't get rich, but that wasn't my goal, and we certainly didn't starve. I don't have a lot of respect for students who go to law school expecting to get a big firm job and get rich. It's not so different from kids who spend most of their time practicing their sport on the off chance they will be the one in a thousand to play professionally. And believe me -- in rural areas, inner city neighborhoods, Indian reservations -- there aren't nearly enough lawyers. And I don't mean just criminal defense attorneys. It's very difficult to start a business without some legal assistance to make sure one is in compliance with all laws and regulations. Unfortunately, working poor couple sometimes need to divorce, just like those in the middle class. Maybe the housing crisis wouldn't have hit so hard if all buyers had attorneys advising them about the potential pitfalls of variable-rate mortgages. If you have a product that you are selling overseas, you need to be kept abreast of international trade developments. And yes, prosecutors tend to be very good, but public defenders are overworked, and if one doesn't qualify for a public defender, one may have a very difficult time getting good representation for a reasonable fee. What we really need is either better availability of decent paying jobs in underserved areas, or loan forgiveness for law graduates making a low salary. And then perhaps some of these good lawyers can afford to work where they are needed.

(15) Manny, February 28, 2013 8:11 PM

The way we use lawyers is changin

Great video, just thought I put my 2 cents worth. I represent a services that provides access to on call attorneys for an insignificant monthly fee that actually serves as a preventive to life events rather than as a respond to problems... imagine a lot of stuff can actually be taken care off before problems pop up by having access to legal council before you make a decision or a business transaction. It serves well with the attorney firms, the clients and me. So there you have it Shavoua Tov!

Anonymous, March 1, 2013 3:53 PM

Where is this service and how can it be duplicated?

This sounds helpful and interesting. I'd like to tell my students about it and investigate whether it can be offered here.

(14) Anonymous, February 28, 2013 1:04 AM

My first comment was omitted so I'll try again. I am not sure what the purpose here is. I'm not convinced it's something "to think about." I feel for those in law school but please realize our entire economy is not what it was. The long-time 50 plus social worker/therapists have jobs but many new graduates are searching for the 35G job.. There are many fields that are oversaturated. People have to do what they enjoy and have bitachon. I prefer Rabbi Salomon sticking to parenting or DSM disorder discussion. Or Torah thoughts. That's his field. And I certainly don't believe the scenario of the suing son presented is the norm. Knocking the legal profession is not appropriate. Many litigators are involved in worthwhile efforts. There are ethics and humanity in every profession. How do you think the lawyers/students/new graduates felt about this video? Why not "think about that?"

(13) Anonymous, February 27, 2013 2:03 PM

In a previous comment I made, I meant to say that law school tuition is so steep that new graduates feel pressured to take high paying corporate-types of legal positions in order to pay back their huge student loans. Let me also say that I greatly admire the commenter who mentioned being the 57 year old law student. How wonderful for you! I hope you find a terrific position when you graduate from law school. Despite what Rabbi Salomon said in his video, there are many days when I am sorry I did not apply to law school when I was younger. Alas, I was too afraid of failure to do so.

(12) Anonymous, February 27, 2013 12:00 AM

Not new

This is not a new phenomenon. I have been a practicing Attorney for over a half century and its common knowledge that most law school gradates do not go into the practice. Legal training prepares an individual for many pursuits including but not limited to teaching, business and even the medical field.

(11) Melanie Vliet, February 26, 2013 11:23 PM

You Don't Understand

As a big fan of Rabbi Salomon's and a 57-year-old law student whose son became a lawyer in 2011, I am disappointed by this video. First, law school applications have declined because there aren't enough jobs out there--not because there aren't jobs that pay phenomenally well. Second, lawyers aren't just there to do the sort of transactional law that is described in this video. While more lawyers practice transactional law than practice trial law, I like to refer people to the meaning of the term for the profession. As is evident from the Spanish word "abogado," a lawyer is an advocate. This is exactly how God describes Himself in His role as the Ruach ha Kodesh. A lawyer is one who comes alongside, assisting people when they most need it by taking their side--advocating for them. There can never be too many advocates in the world. Lawyers seek justice. In my case, I am hoping to use my degree to work against human trafficking. My son is using his in the area of personal injury to obtain financial recoveries for innocent persons who have suffered significant physical harms. The reason for the declining market for lawyers, I believe, is the terrible economy. When people need all the money they can make just to subsist, legal matters become secondary, and fewer law suits are brought. Certainly I am not advocating being litigious, and the notion of suing one's parents for failing to provide a loving home is selfish, unreasonable, unconstitutional, and pointless, but lawyers are not permitted to bring frivolous lawsuits under our rules of ethics. We are, on the other hand, very much needed to bring justice into a godless world.

(10) Helen Borenstein, February 26, 2013 10:43 PM

What next?

The only problem with Rabbi Salomon's commentary, is that he does not offer up any solutions. While I agree that this has become a very litigious society, what should those who are interested in law do instead? How mant traders does Wall St. need, or Financial analysts? Becoming a psychotherapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist also takes years of study and tuition and might help individuals correct their problems and rejoin society, but then anyone who thinks he or she had a bad childhood, a bad teacher, a bad experience in the supermarket, will then run to their local psychotherapist. Today, the DSM is filled with all kinds of 'issues' that were unheard of years ago: Social Anxiety Disorder, Narcissistic Disorder, Histrionic Disorder, Panic Disorder, and the list goes on and on. Where did these things come from? Perhaps, beside not needing so many lawyers or psychotherapists,or Traders, we need professionals who can assess why this society is so dependent on "quick fixes,"and why this society sues for the slightest reason, and why this society is so addicted to medication as never before? In short, why is this society so messed up? We have to find out where the problems are and try to fix them, if that is possibile.

(9) Anonymous, February 26, 2013 10:17 PM

Not just the points you mentioned, it's the work load, I believe

I have several lawyers in my immediate & peripheral family. While THEY don't mention it, I see the huge number of hours they put in daily leaving them little family time. Next it's not just the law profession. Increased influence of insurers has greatly reduced the numbers of best qualified applicants to medicine as well as other fields

(8) Michael Ben Av, February 26, 2013 9:02 PM

Lawyers for law; Law for peace

I am surprised how negative Rabbi Salomon is on lawyers. Torah is law at its best - law promotes peace and is useful to avoid and contain conflict. People who conduct business without lawyers are likely to develop misunderstandings that will lead to conflict that could have been avoided with a properly drafted legal agreement. Lawyers also protect civil liberties that are essential to keeping our freedom real. We need law. And law needs lawyers.

(7) Anonymous, February 26, 2013 8:41 PM

When I think of lawyers, I think of my father (z"l) who for almost 30 years was a lawyer for the federal government. His specialty was anti-trust and trade regulation, and he wanted to make certain that the general public was not being swindled by false and misleading advertising. To me, he was a true ADVOCATE. I admire lawyers who use their abilities to help those in need. We need more of THOSE types of lawyers. Alas, law school tuition is so steep that new graduates feel pressured to take high paying corporate-type jobs. I wish I could offer a solution to the problem of astronomical law school tuition. As usual, Rabbi Salamon has offered us something to think about.

(6) Anonymous, February 26, 2013 8:20 PM

very offensive generalization

I'm so surprised that you characterize lawyers in such a negative fashion. Smart lawyers can solve so many of the world's problems and help their clients in so many productive ways. Much of the commerce in the U.S. would not be possible without lawyers. And without business lawyers, the need for litigators would only increase, not shrink. So many of the world's problem-solvers are lawyers.

(5) howard yagerman, February 26, 2013 8:11 PM

lawyers what are good for...

I am a lawyer and I come from a family of lawyers.I convinced my sons not to be lawyers.They are very happy and incredibly fulfilled.I did my job.

(4) Charlie S., February 26, 2013 7:21 PM

Prospective lawyers are finally seeing the reality of the situation

There were too many people applying to law schools 10 years ago and the economy has corrected that problem. Everyone thought they could find a $100K job fresh out of school and those jobs aren't as available as they once were. Additionally, law school is a terrible investment. The funds spent on the education with a mediocre job will take at least 20 years to pay back, if ever. The debt is considered educational so it is not discharged in bankruptcy. There are only 2 ways outside of a big law firm to make money, work a ridiculous number of hours in which you may make money but per hour, it is comparable if not below someone who has a lesser education, or take cases on contingency whereby you carry all of the risk and if you are lucky, it will pay off down the line. The first lesson a person considering law school should be given is don't do it. Think long and hard about the quality of life you want to live and imagine the scenario if you don't finish in the top 10% or 20% of your class and the only available job is a mediocre one. Don't put yourself through the headache.

(3) L.S., February 26, 2013 5:11 PM

It's a bad deal

I know of many people who graduated from top law schools and who are now shelving books at bookstores and working menial office jobs because the legal market is over-saturated. Getting a law degree now is an unwise decision that will rack up debt which one will not be able to pay off and if one is "lucky" enough to find a job at a big law firm, they make the lawyers work 90 hour work weeks under stressful, tedious, uninspiring work conditions. Rabbi Salomon is absolutely correct in his assertion that the problem of too many lawyers is correcting itself.

(2) Anonymous, February 26, 2013 4:58 PM

Not enough psychotherapists!

What we really need are more psychotherapist - particularly those with such an active practice that they have time to make generalized videos for self promotion. Because, unlike lawyers, psychotherapist *are* job creators, and everything they do appears to be totally rationale and useful to those ignorant of their field of "specialty."

(1) Joseph A. Apicella, February 26, 2013 3:38 AM

A wonderful subject to study, but not for $50,000 a yaer

I loved studying law. But if you think you can hang a shingle out and make money-forget about it. The large firms make you work a 60 hour week. You must produce billable hours.Use your legal knowledge elsewhere and only pursue law if you can do it without getting into debt.


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