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(The New York Times)   This week in Sentences No One Has Said Before: "America is suffering a serious lack of lawyers"   (nytimes.com) divider line 106
    More: Interesting, practice of laws, LexisNexis, oversupply, Rapid City, ABA, practical skills  
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4581 clicks; posted to Main » on 09 Apr 2013 at 10:23 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-04-09 10:25:33 AM  
Ummm no.... no we're not
 
2013-04-09 10:26:07 AM  
Because no one wants to live in rural areas anymore.

Why would they? Corruption, racism, ignorance. Everything is amplified in these terrifying little towns. Not to mention the excruciating boredom and general lack of intelligent citizens.
 
2013-04-09 10:26:11 AM  
Good.

/And no, we're not
 
2013-04-09 10:26:17 AM  
If we reach a critical mass of lawyers do all the court houses implode?
 
2013-04-09 10:26:22 AM  
www.reactionface.info
 
2013-04-09 10:26:48 AM  
It's not "America" but rural areas.  A retired friend who's a fellow prosecutor in rural Indiana is getting hired on contract by the county as a public defender because the county has so few lawyers (and they HATE hiring city folks).
 
2013-04-09 10:27:10 AM  
 America is suffering a serious lack of lawyers....


Hmmmm....maybe they meant: America is suffering a lack of serious lawyers?
 
2013-04-09 10:28:07 AM  
Maybe we could be like other countries and not have everybody need a lawyer for so may parts of life?
 
2013-04-09 10:29:11 AM  
Coming this Fall: Michael J. Fox is "Counselor Hollywood." A smug, highbrow securities litigator gets in a fender-bender in rural Arkansas and is sentenced to spend two weeks providing legal advice to the humble townsfolk, while simultaneously winning the heart of an innocent paralegal. The film climaxes when Fox files a mass tort class action against Dow Chemical on behalf of all the villagers.
 
2013-04-09 10:29:49 AM  

Omnivorous: It's not "America" but rural areas.  A retired friend who's a fellow prosecutor in rural Indiana is getting hired on contract by the county as a public defender because the county has so few lawyers (and they HATE hiring city folks).


Rural America = Real America. cities = foreign countries. There are two cultures in this country these days.
 
2013-04-09 10:29:58 AM  

ThatGuyFromTheInternet: Maybe we could be like other countries and not have everybody need a lawyer for so may parts of life?


That would require legalese to go away. As long as leases and contracts are used in many parts of life we can't get rid of them. It is either that or teach people how to properly read legalese or require more common language use in those.
 
2013-04-09 10:30:19 AM  
25.media.tumblr.com
"Can you imagine a world without lawyers?"
 
2013-04-09 10:32:28 AM  
Speaking as someone that used to be an attorney in a rural town (population 3000), you can't make a living there.  Even if I defended every meth-head in the county, every DUI, and not to mention divorce, I could not make a decent living there.  Most of the people couldn't afford to pay and those that could, most times didn't.  Plus, I had "clients" calling me and my parents in the middle of the night or showing up at my house to ask legal questions.  This is not counting the times that I was ordered to take a public case, because I was handy.  In the three years that I was an attorney in that rural town, I never made more than 22K per year.
 
2013-04-09 10:33:29 AM  
Interesting. I'll forward this article to all my friends working as baristas, or temps, or some other shiat job, trying to pay down their law school debt because absolutely nobody will hire them as a freakin lawyer. All they need to do is move to rural South Dakota, then they'll be raking in the cash!
 
2013-04-09 10:33:47 AM  
Rural areas don't have sufficient populations to support professionals. They are underserved by doctors as well.

In the legal world, rural county courts are known for being oppressively insular, many times each county has its own rules, and "city" lawyers are despised.

I live about a forty minute train ride from philadelphia and i am looked at like an alien in my home county courthouse, which is 10 miles and three turns from house. About the only way i get an even shot there is by using my home address on my filings.
 
2013-04-09 10:33:53 AM  

Contribution Corsair: ThatGuyFromTheInternet: Maybe we could be like other countries and not have everybody need a lawyer for so may parts of life?

That would require legalese to go away. As long as leases and contracts are used in many parts of life we can't get rid of them. It is either that or teach people how to properly read legalese or require more common language use in those.


But without the legalese, how will our financial betters screw us on everything?!
 
2013-04-09 10:38:03 AM  

Contribution Corsair: ThatGuyFromTheInternet: Maybe we could be like other countries and not have everybody need a lawyer for so may parts of life?

That would require legalese to go away. As long as leases and contracts are used in many parts of life we can't get rid of them. It is either that or teach people how to properly read legalese or require more common language use in those.


Up until I was practicing law at age 29, I didn't need a lawyer or a legal education to do anything. Hell, my law degree was practically a hinderence when I bought my house since I overthought the shiat out of the documents. My parents used an attorney once in their mutual lives (eldest is now 65) to draft a will to make sure my brother and I ended up with a specific aunt and uncle - their multiple moves and career changes didn't necessitate my profession's services.

If you "need an attorney to do anything," you're either overly litigious or are doing things well outside the bounds of the law.
 
2013-04-09 10:38:23 AM  
Maybe it's an anagram.   "America is wearily suffering a freak colossus."
 
2013-04-09 10:42:13 AM  

Contribution Corsair: That would require legalese to go away. As long as leases and contracts are used in many parts of life we can't get rid of them. It is either that or teach people how to properly read legalese or require more common language use in those.


Legalese my ass.  In general, the real issue is not impenetrable jargon, as most of that has been excised from the law since the middle of the last century, but the fact that most people just don't read things.* Most Licenses are written pretty plainly, but the trick is that that doesnt matter when most people dont look at them.

/* does not apply to patents or statutes
 
2013-04-09 10:42:49 AM  

Jim.Casy: Interesting. I'll forward this article to all my friends working as baristas, or temps, or some other shiat job, trying to pay down their law school debt because absolutely nobody will hire them as a freakin lawyer. All they need to do is move to rural South Dakota, then they'll be raking in the cashia


tell them to brush up on their "livestock sodomy" laws, and they're golden!
 
2013-04-09 10:43:19 AM  

Snarfangel: Maybe it's an anagram.   "America is wearily suffering a freak colossus."


timebusinessblog.files.wordpress.com
I call him Litigizilla
 
2013-04-09 10:44:37 AM  

Teiritzamna: Legalese my ass.


rlv.zcache.com
 
2013-04-09 10:44:50 AM  

Solon Isonomia: Contribution Corsair: ThatGuyFromTheInternet: Maybe we could be like other countries and not have everybody need a lawyer for so may parts of life?

That would require legalese to go away. As long as leases and contracts are used in many parts of life we can't get rid of them. It is either that or teach people how to properly read legalese or require more common language use in those.

Up until I was practicing law at age 29, I didn't need a lawyer or a legal education to do anything. Hell, my law degree was practically a hinderence when I bought my house since I overthought the shiat out of the documents.


At least you weren't hung up on spelling.
 
2013-04-09 10:47:13 AM  

sure haven't: Because no one wants to live in rural areas anymore.

Why would they? Corruption, racism, ignorance. Everything is amplified in these terrifying little towns. Not to mention the excruciating boredom and general lack of intelligent citizens.


I see you've never spent much time in rural areas. If you think a successful farmer, who manages 5,000 acres and spends $3M/yr to earn $250K is ignorant, you don't know much about agriculture.
 
2013-04-09 10:48:12 AM  

Omnivorous: It's not "America" but rural areas.  A retired friend who's a fellow prosecutor in rural Indiana is getting hired on contract by the county as a public defender because the county has so few lawyers (and they HATE hiring city folks).


Lawsuits aren't filed in rural areas. They tend to get shopped to venues in the major cities, which more frequently have sympathetic judges or juries, or award larger awards. Amazingly, that's where the lawyers are.
 
2013-04-09 10:49:00 AM  

sure haven't: Because no one wants to live in rural areas anymore.

Why would they? Corruption, racism, ignorance. Everything is amplified in these terrifying little towns. Not to mention the excruciating boredom and general lack of intelligent citizens.


Because no one wants to live in big cities anymore.

Why would they? Corruption, racism, ignorance. Everything is amplified in these filthy big cities. Not to mention the noise, pollution and universal lack of intelligent citizens.

/live in a big city
//still think you're an ignorant turd
///I bet you live in the northeast
 
2013-04-09 10:49:05 AM  

wozzeck: I live about a forty minute train ride from philadelphia and i am looked at like an alien in my home county courthouse, which is 10 miles and three turns from house. About the only way i get an even shot there is by using my home address on my filings.


It's not like Montgomery county is excessively rural either. The southern parts are highly developed and even the more rural northern parts aren't BFE by any measure.
 
2013-04-09 10:50:13 AM  

MyKingdomForYourHorse: Ummm no.... no we're not


In the medium-sized and big cities, that's true.  In places like the one mentioned in the article, yeah...yeah they are.
 
2013-04-09 10:50:36 AM  

wozzeck: I live about a forty minute train ride from philadelphia


Your profile says you live in Philadelphia.
 
2013-04-09 10:50:54 AM  
Solon Isonomia:

If you "need an attorney to do anything," you're either overly litigious or are doing things well outside the bounds of the law.

You assume sociopaths don't care about right and wrong. That's not true. We just don't understand all your farking rules. Or pretty much any of them, to narrow that down a bit. So we have lawyers help us. True, the law isn't exactly about right and wrong, but it's the only guide some of us have. You don't want us running around doing whatever we want, do you?
 
2013-04-09 10:52:22 AM  

JackieRabbit: I see you've never spent much time in rural areas. If you think a successful farmer, who manages 5,000 acres and spends $3M/yr to earn $250K is ignorant, you don't know much about agriculture.


I hope you mean $250k profit, because otherwise the math sucks and they really are ignorant.

/ 8.3% profit isn't half bad though.
 
2013-04-09 10:53:01 AM  

Contribution Corsair: ThatGuyFromTheInternet: Maybe we could be like other countries and not have everybody need a lawyer for so may parts of life?

That would require legalese to go away. As long as leases and contracts are used in many parts of life we can't get rid of them. It is either that or teach people how to properly read legalese or require more common language use in those.


Fun stuff - lots of states use "plain language" requirements in court documents.
 
2013-04-09 10:53:36 AM  

Hagbardr: wozzeck: I live about a forty minute train ride from philadelphia and i am looked at like an alien in my home county courthouse, which is 10 miles and three turns from house. About the only way i get an even shot there is by using my home address on my filings.

It's not like Montgomery county is excessively rural either. The southern parts are highly developed and even the more rural northern parts aren't BFE by any measure.


I'm assuming he's a plaintiff's attorney. Court filings in PA look like two spider bites centered on Philadelphia and Allegheny counties. Those areas are hugely red; swollen with filings. The surrounding counties are bereft of filings, because their juries are defense-friendly.

If he's in Bucks or Montgomery, he probably is seen as an alien. His kind is unusual and unwelcome in those jurisdictions.
 
2013-04-09 10:54:03 AM  

This text is now purple: wozzeck: I live about a forty minute train ride from philadelphia

Your profile says you live in Philadelphia.


Elkins Park is in Montgomery county. I used to live in East Oak Lane (Philadelphia) and would walk to Melrose Park (Montgomery) to board the train.
 
2013-04-09 11:02:35 AM  

Contribution Corsair: ThatGuyFromTheInternet: Maybe we could be like other countries and not have everybody need a lawyer for so may parts of life?

That would require legalese to go away. As long as leases and contracts are used in many parts of life we can't get rid of them. It is either that or teach people how to properly read legalese or require more common language use in those.


Sorry, had to FTFM. But maybe if more people were taught reading COMPREHENSION....

/I know, I know, my lawn.
 
2013-04-09 11:04:31 AM  
Its a case of 3 mutually supporting problems. By the time a person pays for their degree and law school in most cases they have fairly serious debts which need moderately high pay to service in a timely manner. Many or most laywers specialize in a few fairly narrow and related areas of law partially because they like those areas partially for pay purposes. Not saying my personal injury laywer can't make a good tough to challenge will or living trust but he isn't automatic at it. Now ask him about a property contract and he is taking more time. That's part of why they have firms. In a county of 10,000 people there is enough work really to support about 4 lawyers and 6 paralegals. (Oh and a county prosecutor as well the others will pick up rotations as public defenders in their duties as officers of the court) You will also have a county judge who is most likely one of those 4 but may also be a 5th who is semi retired) Thing is each of those is going to have to do divorces deeds notary wills civil and criminal, feel competant enough in all those areas to not really seek help regularly.

Most people with serious legal issues and money will still want to hire a specialist however you could often get co council and consulting out of that as well as use of your office and paralegal. Its a lot of work with moderate risk to be financially worse off than you would be doing 0 risk corperate consulting.

That's not how you get ahead and you will be told that in proffesional publications and education. At that point it becomes a labour of dedication and love of the art/proffesion/community like a family pracitioner in medicine. Since we have all met the american laywer guess how common that is? Mr. Smith doesn't go to washington does he?
 
2013-04-09 11:06:41 AM  
The demand for legal services in America is at an all-time high, and yet employment for lawyers is at an all-time low. These statements are both true, even though they seem mutually exclusive. The reason for this is pretty much what other people in the thread said, that this kind of work is incredibly low-paying, and with the skyrocketing cost of law school, the "small-town" lawyer is a dying breed. People simply cannot afford to go out to live in rural Arkansas to deal with the legal claims of a few thousand people who can pay a pittance for their work.

I hate saying this, but a lot of the reasons that there's this kind of demand is due to the Republicans systematically destroying the government-funded Legal Services Corporations that sprang up in the late 1950s and 1960s. They were too effective in lobbying against businesses and protecting consumers and the civil rights, and so bit by bit their funding was slashed, they had their mandates changed (it's now illegal for a government-funded Legal Services organization to engage in any form of advocacy), and they were categorically banned from working for certain clients (for instance, undocumented immigrants). This led to far fewer jobs, and far more people getting screwed by the legal system.

The same thing has happened to public defenders. There is a  massive need for extra lawyers who are willing to do public defense work, but the jobs simply do not exist because the government refuses to fund the public defenders' offices. Well-funded and properly staffed PD offices are extremely rare.

So no, the headline is wrong, America is not suffering from a serious lack of  lawyers, but America is suffering from a serious lack of  legal services.
 
2013-04-09 11:08:07 AM  
I'm not surprised that new lawyers are avoiding rural areas. Grads from law schools often have $100k+ in debt. They look at an area that won't generate nearly enough money to pay that off and pass on it. Add to it that the schools aren't as good as suburban schools for their eventual families. On top of that, they just spent 3 years in grad school on a campus that was likely urban, spending their time on univsersity-town entertainment. Who wants to move to an unfamiliar area, hours away from their friends and preferred lifestyle, while saddled with huge debts? I found in school that the people who most wanted to go to rural/small town areas were people originally from those areas.

I suppose you could say the same of doctors, though, and they still flock to these programs. Maybe it's the fact that people actually respect doctors.
 
2013-04-09 11:08:40 AM  

Uzzah: Coming this Fall: Michael J. Fox is "Counselor Hollywood." A smug, highbrow securities litigator gets in a fender-bender in rural Arkansas and is sentenced to spend two weeks providing legal advice to the humble townsfolk, while simultaneously winning the heart of an innocent paralegal. The film climaxes when Fox files a mass tort class action against Dow Chemical on behalf of all the villagers.


Here's the plan... you and I get  a time machine, go back to the late 1980s, kill the guys who came up with Northern Exposure and we take their place.
 
2013-04-09 11:11:42 AM  
I am a lawyer so I'm getting a kick blah blah blah.

Rincewind53: The demand for legal services in America is at an all-time high, and yet employment for lawyers is at an all-time low. These statements are both true, even though they seem mutually exclusive. The reason for this is pretty much what other people in the thread said, that this kind of work is incredibly low-paying, and with the skyrocketing cost of law school, the "small-town" lawyer is a dying breed. People simply cannot afford to go out to live in rural Arkansas to deal with the legal claims of a few thousand people who can pay a pittance for their work.

I hate saying this, but a lot of the reasons that there's this kind of demand is due to the Republicans systematically destroying the government-funded Legal Services Corporations that sprang up in the late 1950s and 1960s. They were too effective in lobbying against businesses and protecting consumers and the civil rights, and so bit by bit their funding was slashed, they had their mandates changed (it's now illegal for a government-funded Legal Services organization to engage in any form of advocacy), and they were categorically banned from working for certain clients (for instance, undocumented immigrants). This led to far fewer jobs, and far more people getting screwed by the legal system.

The same thing has happened to public defenders. There is a  massive need for extra lawyers who are willing to do public defense work, but the jobs simply do not exist because the government refuses to fund the public defenders' offices. Well-funded and properly staffed PD offices are extremely rare.

So no, the headline is wrong, America is not suffering from a serious lack of  lawyers, but America is suffering from a serious lack of  legal services.


A valid point, to be sure, yet it's not just a problem in rural areas. I work in a massive metropolis and finding clients who are (1) able to pay and (2) willing to pay is an ongoing struggle.  We do alright, though, much better than if we were in the countryside.
 
2013-04-09 11:12:48 AM  

Rincewind53: So no, the headline is wrong, America is not suffering from a serious lack of lawyers, but America is suffering from a serious lack of legal services.


I don't like the sound of that...

If I catch you helping someone with immigration paperwork, I will slap you silly with a UPL suit.

Unless you are also a lawyer.

/ not a lawyer
// but I play one on Fark
/// and I do have a GED in Law
 
2013-04-09 11:13:38 AM  

red_dragon60: I suppose you could say the same of doctors, though, and they still flock to these programs. Maybe it's the fact that people actually respect doctors.


Um - the reason for the difference is "these programs" actually exist for doctors, but not really for lawyers yet.  They are discussing setting them up for lawyers.  Given the amount of lawyers who are desperate for loan relief and a job, i bet many would sign up for ~100k in loan forgiveness for 5 years.
 
2013-04-09 11:14:42 AM  
I realize the article is about rural areas, but even in a general sense we don't have enough litigators and legal professionals (paralegals, ect). Law school is too expensive, the pool of legal jobs that pay well too restricted, and the BAR association, by limiting accreditation to a certain number a year, acts effectively as a cartel limiting the number of "qualified" lawyers to keep prices high. Certain fields, like criminal defense and civil tort, really bare the brunt of this since our lack of proper subsidization and general demonization of those fields means the money and advancement opportunities available in them are negligible.

The result is we have too many lawyers trying to get into lucrative/advancement fields like corporate and prosecution, and way too few providing the most necessary and oft-used legal services. From that flows all sorts of evils: big offenders being able to bully the people they hurt out of pressing claims because they lack the know-how and funding to pursue them; citizens not knowing their rights, or how to navigate basic municipal law, or being able to affordably find people who do; prosecutorial misconduct and abuse that rarely gets called out or adequately opposed; a shift in the profession away from concerns for defendant rights and civil bureaucratic simplicity/knowledge and towards prosecutions, opaque procedures that protect government and high-resource litigants, corporate preference and judicial bureaucratic supremacy. Those evils lead to still others; unjust prosecutions, inefficient government at the local and county level, general disrespect for juries, cases being delayed because the system favors easy judicial dockets over actually clearing cases appropriately, police with a jaundiced view towards the rules and the citizens because they know they can get away with abuse by playing on the system's inertia, inappropriate fines that are too difficult and expensive to challenge, all sorts of bullshiat like that.

Litigiousness as a social trait gets a bad rap and lots of blame for nebulous "social ills", but what it actually means is that we, as citizens, prefer to settle our differences peaceably in the courts rather than with fist fights in the streets. It isn't even anything new; English-speaking society has been going to court at the drop of a hat since Saxon times, and being able to understand and navigate legal procedure was an important driver of literacy among better off English farmers during the Medieval period. Frequent use of the courts keeps society peaceful, predictable, and healthy. But to accomplish that, we need the right kind of professionals, and procedures that are easy and cheap enough for the average citizen to make use of. As it stands our legal systems are complicated, filled with contradictory archaic nonsense that no one ever bothered to take off the books, and compel the use of documentary procedures that have been out of date since the 1980s, at least. A standardization of local and state laws wouldn't hurt, either.
 
2013-04-09 11:16:15 AM  

Rwa2play: MyKingdomForYourHorse: Ummm no.... no we're not

In the medium-sized and big cities, that's true.  In places like the one mentioned in the article, yeah...yeah they are.


And not a single thing was lost
 
2013-04-09 11:16:38 AM  

tnpir: A valid point, to be sure, yet it's not just a problem in rural areas. I work in a massive metropolis and finding clients who are (1) able to pay and (2) willing to pay is an ongoing struggle.  We do alright, though, much better than if we were in the countryside.


Oh sure, there's also a massive demand for legal services in cities as well, for similar reasons. It's almost impossible to run a firm solely on housing claims for low-income tenants, for instance.

The_Gallant_Gallstone: I don't like the sound of that...

If I catch you helping someone with immigration paperwork, I will slap you silly with a UPL suit.

Unless you are also a lawyer.

/ not a lawyer
// but I play one on Fark
/// and I do have a GED in Law


Excuse me, I have to go meet my asylum client now.
 
2013-04-09 11:16:55 AM  
So why do I recall hearing recently on an NPR program (forget which one) that we had a problem of too many lawyers and not enough work for them?
 
2013-04-09 11:17:39 AM  

This text is now purple: Omnivorous: It's not "America" but rural areas.  A retired friend who's a fellow prosecutor in rural Indiana is getting hired on contract by the county as a public defender because the county has so few lawyers (and they HATE hiring city folks).

Lawsuits aren't filed in rural areas. They tend to get shopped to venues in the major cities, which more frequently have sympathetic judges or juries, or award larger awards. Amazingly, that's where the lawyers are.


SOME civil suits get shopped for a tactical advantage in a certain forum, but those are likely to be major cases involving out of state defendants (products liability and the like).  Most civil disputes will be filed in the local jurisdiction where the dispute arises.  The problem with rural areas is that if you practice there, you likely have to handle a wide variety of matters just to stay in business in a profession that has become extremely specialized over the past half a century.  So, faced with the prospect of living in Bumfark, Egypt saddled with six-figure student loan debt and having to hang up your own shingle and start taking whatever comes through the door and not having any mentoring or guidance in your early years and trying to figure out a way to pay your bills and malpractice insurance and CLE and bar dues and still eek out a living isn't very attractive for some strange reason.
 
2013-04-09 11:20:00 AM  
Maybe they can set up remote lawyering. A guy in Sticks, North Dakota (not a real town, I think) teleconferences with a lawyer in Big City, Ohio (not a real city). Maybe set up something like that in the court room too, if they are really desperate. That way, a lawyer could help clients without travelling a thousand miles.
 
2013-04-09 11:20:43 AM  

nekom: So why do I recall hearing recently on an NPR program (forget which one) that we had a problem of too many lawyers and not enough work for them?


We do.  The job market is awful.  I think I read that we have finally reached the point where 50% of law school grads are either un-employed, under-employed or working in non-legal jobs six months after graduation.  Jobs for contract lawyers (paid by the hour rather than as a salaried associate) that paid $50 an hour plus benefits when I got out of law school are paying maybe half that with no benefits right now.
 
2013-04-09 11:22:08 AM  

Heron: Litigiousness as a social trait gets a bad rap and lots of blame for nebulous "social ills", but what it actually means is that we, as citizens, prefer to settle our differences peaceably in the courts rather than with fist fights in the streets.


We're becoming a nation of pussies... got it.

nekom: So why do I recall hearing recently on an NPR program (forget which one) that we had a problem of too many lawyers and not enough work for them?


Because that program was probably discussing a general trend across the nation while this article is discussing a situation particular to rural areas.
 
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