Archive for the ‘The Crisis in the Legal Profession’ Category

A friend of mine hired a lawyer to help him create a trust in which to put some of his earnings. The lawyer charged $800/hr. Another friend needed a lawyer to appear with him (for a few hours) at his administrative hearing to help him contest his termination. The fee was $20,000. The fee for a lawyer to advise a friend on a single provision in his mother’s trust was $1,500. An attorney in my office once described the sense of guilt she sometimes feels when she looks at the total amount due on the invoice she is about to send out. “Don’t feel guilty!” a colleague told her. “Everyone else charges that much. You deserve it too!” If clients are willing to pay it, why should lawyers charge less? Legal fees of $1,500 or $20,000 – or even $300 – are so out of touch with the cost of […]

The gap in the middle The U.S. ranks last among peer nations in access to legal services. Despite a very crowded legal profession, millions of Americans — those who are too rich for subsidized legal services but too poor to afford a private attorney at market rates of around $200 to $350 an hour — lack access to high-quality, or any, legal assistance. As Jeanne Charn puts it, our legal system has had “a nearly exclusive focus on the very poor at the expense of middle income people who also cannot afford traditional market-rate lawyer services.” It guarantees help to those who have incomes of 125% above the poverty line but offers nothing to those whose incomes are at 150 or 200% of the poverty line, but who also cannot afford the legal assistance they need. As lawyers know, the law guarantees the right to a (government-subsidized) attorney if you are […]

There is a large, and growing, mismatch between either (1) the number of law school graduates we are producing and the jobs available for them to fill or (2) the kind of law school graduates we are producing and the jobs available for them to fill. Or both. The numbers gap Over the last five years, ABA accredited schools have graduated at least 73,652 students (33.5 – 38.1% of graduates) who did not obtain jobs practicing law within nine months of graduation. In the most recent year, 2011, the percentage was 40.2% (best case) to 44.0% (worst case). (Source: Deborah Jones Merritt, “The Declining Job Market for Law School Graduates, 2001-2011“) According to figures recently released by the National Association of Legal Professionals, nine months after graduation, 83% of 2011 graduates from the 20 schools with the highest employment were working as lawyers; 31% of those from the bottom 20 were working as lawyers. The […]