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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 29
    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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Archived thread
2013-04-09 10:32:28 AM  
5 votes:
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 11:06:41 AM  
3 votes:
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 10:26:07 AM  
3 votes:
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 11:08:07 AM  
2 votes:
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 10:33:47 AM  
2 votes:
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 10:33:29 AM  
2 votes:
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 10:30:19 AM  
2 votes:
25.media.tumblr.com
"Can you imagine a world without lawyers?"
2013-04-09 10:29:58 AM  
2 votes:

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 10:28:07 AM  
2 votes:
Maybe we could be like other countries and not have everybody need a lawyer for so may parts of life?
2013-04-09 10:25:33 AM  
2 votes:
Ummm no.... no we're not
2013-04-09 01:05:23 PM  
1 votes:
A new client had just come in to see a lawyer. "Can you tell me how much you charge?", said the client.
"Of course", the lawyer replied, "I charge $200 to answer three questions!"
"Well that's a bit steep, isn't it?"
"Yes it is", said the lawyer, "now what's your final question?"


true.
2013-04-09 12:38:56 PM  
1 votes:

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


That would require you, the ordinary non-lawyer citizen, to stop being such self-absorbed, amoral bastards.   If everytime somebody wronged you, you didn't think "I should sue", If jackpot noises didn't go off in your head when you slipped and fell at the grocery store, and if you'd stop trying to take advantage of everyone you did business with, we lawyers would starve.  but I don;t see that happening anytime soon.

You want to kill the "lawsuit culture" in this country truly dead as a doornail in one easy step?  Vote for Single-payer, universal health care.   The biggest Line item in any lawsuit judgment is "future medical bills",  the second biggest is "medical bills already incurred".   If people could get injured without facing the spectre of bankruptcy, they probably wouldn;t bother suing most of the time but as it is, yeah it may have been an accident, and yeah it was your buddy's housed where you slipped on that ice cube and broke your leg, but you've got a $50k hospital bill and no insurance, so you've got to do SOMETHING
2013-04-09 12:32:31 PM  
1 votes:
I am outraged!!  Spending tax money to place lawyers in these towns of parasites??  What would our Savior Ayn Rand say about this sort of socialist claptrap!!  Let the market decide, that's what!!  Acceding to the "needs" of these despicable bottom feeding lazy Communist parasites as if they're people!  What next, a surcharge on gold plated cravats to fund this boondoggle??  No!!!!  Let the Great Chain find a solution, if there needs to be one.
2013-04-09 12:11:13 PM  
1 votes:
whistleridge: "That's the free market those Red Staters are supposed to love so much at work."

But they've never recognized the contrast between their words and their reality when it's come up before.
Their hypocrisy in having their infrastructure subsidized by the very people they hold in contempt is well-traveled ground.
And they've never shown the least bit of shame when it comes time to *demand* the next subsidy.
So why should anyone expect this situation to be any different?

The city folk they hate so much are going to be subsidizing their lawyers the same way they subsidize the roads, water, sewer, data, schools, hospitals and the damn courts themselves.
2013-04-09 11:58:03 AM  
1 votes:
Sendtence patent & copyright trolls to solve the shortage by forcing them to rot in some podunk town.
2013-04-09 11:42:41 AM  
1 votes:

whistleridge: 1. Law school is  expensive, and usually paid for via large loans that require a solid paycheck to repay it. 
2. Rural living sucks. It's dead boring. There's a reason small towns have been places that kids leave for college and never come back to for over a century now.
3. Even if rural living didn't suck, there's just no way a lawyer there is going to be able to make the kind of money needed to pay off those law school loans.

1+2+3 = there is zero economic or social incentive for a lawyer to move out there. Until and unless those areas start offering competitive incentives and bonuses, the problem will continue to get worse. That's the free market those Red Staters are supposed to love so much at work.


Even beyond the soul-crushing boredom, there's the problem two-income families face.  Even if one person lands a good job in a rural area, the spouse/partner has a hard time finding work that pays anywhere close to what they can earn in a city.  This is why my current employer has a really hard time recruiting people - and why I'm moving to a much bigger city in a couple months.
2013-04-09 11:38:58 AM  
1 votes:
We do have too many law school graduates.  We don't have too many lawyers, at least in rural areas.  Why?  How can this be?  Recent law school graduates don't have enough experience to be good lawyers, and they can't afford to work in rural areas as an entry-level lawyer to gain that experience.

It's not just people going to third-tier private schools who graduate with a ton of debt.  Even in-state tuition has increased dramatically at some schools - my alma mater, IU law school, has increased in-state tuition from $8,500 a semester in 2007 to $14,300 a semester this spring, and overall has tripled in-state tuition since I started going in the late 90s.  ABA rules prevent a full-time law student from working more than 20 hours a week, so even the most frugal student is going to incur over $100,000 in expense, including room and board, and be unable to work enough during school to pay it off.  And so when he or she graduates with six figures in student loan debt, the newly minted attorney can't afford to go to a rural area to work for a general practitioner for $35,000 a year.
2013-04-09 11:26:49 AM  
1 votes:
1. Law school is  expensive, and usually paid for via large loans that require a solid paycheck to repay it. 
2. Rural living sucks. It's dead boring. There's a reason small towns have been places that kids leave for college and never come back to for over a century now.
3. Even if rural living didn't suck, there's just no way a lawyer there is going to be able to make the kind of money needed to pay off those law school loans.

1+2+3 = there is zero economic or social incentive for a lawyer to move out there. Until and unless those areas start offering competitive incentives and bonuses, the problem will continue to get worse. That's the free market those Red Staters are supposed to love so much at work.
2013-04-09 11:26:07 AM  
1 votes:

Sweaty Dynamite: 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.

Know how I know you've never been involved in a large products liability case?


That depends on the large city.  New Orleans was labelled a "judicial hell hole" by the ABA (certainly not a conservative organization) back in the 1990's during the heyday of asbestos litigation.  It has not improved.  Plaintiff lawyers love New Orleans and most of our elected judges draw huge campaign contributions from the plaintiffs' bar.  And they get what they pay for.
2013-04-09 11:20:00 AM  
1 votes:
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 11:14:42 AM  
1 votes:
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 11:04:31 AM  
1 votes:
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 10:47:13 AM  
1 votes:

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 10:43:19 AM  
1 votes:

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


timebusinessblog.files.wordpress.com
I call him Litigizilla
2013-04-09 10:33:53 AM  
1 votes:

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 10:27:10 AM  
1 votes:
 America is suffering a serious lack of lawyers....


Hmmmm....maybe they meant: America is suffering a lack of serious lawyers?
2013-04-09 10:26:48 AM  
1 votes:
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 10:26:22 AM  
1 votes:
www.reactionface.info
2013-04-09 10:26:11 AM  
1 votes:
Good.

/And no, we're not
 
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