Schafer: Law schools finally get realistic

  • Article by: LEE SCHAFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2012 - 8:53 PM
  • 11
  • Comments

  • Results per page:
swatisedJul. 13, 12 8:54 AM

This excess of attorneys could be put to use. What the united states needs is a massive law reduction project. Google appears to have the technology base needed. (1) Load all of the existing federal and state laws into databases. ( not the court cases - you keep that rubbish Nexus/Lexus) (2) Set 40,000 un-employed recent law school grads on the task of rebuilding a coherent legal system - under the existing foundational documents. (3) the goal is get down to 10% of the total # of laws now on the books - yet cover the same range of issues. ============ >>>>>>>>>>> the two fold benefit is that once implemented it will force the old attorneys out of the business - creating jobs for the newly graduated attorneys AND - there will be a period of about 40 years where the average person will have a shot at understanding the darn thing.

3
5
bildo69Jul. 13, 12 8:59 AM

I think realistic would be reducing the number of professors, the salaries of professors, and the cost of law school. The legal job market is grim, but there has been little reform to legal education. Professors are paid full-time salaries, but spend less than 10 hours per week in the classroom. It is tough to reconcile a $200,000 education with a $35,000 non-profit salary.

10
3
uno1950Jul. 13, 12 9:31 AM

When I graduated from Mitchell in 2005, it was bad, and the overall economy was booming then. I can only imagine what it is like now. Of course this situation is only compounded by there being four law schools in a market that can realistically support two. For those coming out, time to get creative and find other ways to apply your education. For those contemplating going, stop and ask yourself if you truly feel a calling. If not, there are better choices.

11
1
unicorn4711Jul. 13, 1210:09 AM

I sort of agree with Swatised. New law grads that can't find jobs could be put to work doing something that should have been done decades ago: democratizing and simplifying the process of legal research and legal work. I once had dinner with a french business man. In their system, the law is simple: it's in a big statute book. The cases don't matter much. It's cheap to access the law. Lawyers exist, obviously, but any decently educated person can read the statute and be fairly certain of what the law is. In our system, as I understand it, law firms spend thousands a year legal research tools like Lexis Nexis or Westlaw. You consult a lawyer, pay a few thousand, and in the end they tell you "well, we can't be certain, it depends." The transactional costs must harm international competitiveness. You'd think court opinions and procedural information would be public knowledge. Not really. For profit companies like West run the system. I heard that only their "published" cases can be used in court at all. And then, not all cases are "published." Google or someone like Google could bid for a government contract to make the entire process of legislation and case publication transparent and put it all online. In a democracy you shouldn't have to go to a for-profit company like West just to learn what the law is. Law grads without jobs could do the grunt work. It'd likely last a decade, or enough time to readjust to a new legal market where far few lawyers are needed, legal research is all done on free internet websites, and law firm's overhead costs are lower. During the time of their employment, they could gain skills relevant to non-law careers. The result, I think, would be fewer lawyers overall, smaller firms, and more niche practices.

2
7
BVMannJul. 13, 1212:43 PM

Who will attempt to sue the outsource companies making defective import products? Geez, now there will be no jobs left in America.

2
3
overlandJul. 13, 12 4:04 PM

This article is disturbing. Just look at the focus on jobs in "large firms." From the article: "The market is particularly bleak for those seeking jobs at firms of more than 100 lawyers." Who cares about the market at big firms? Let the big firms crash with their former corporate clients. Why would anyone want a job like that? Insanely long work-weeks, huge billable hours requirements, and for what, to give the partners most of what you bill? A future like that is no motivation to get through law school. Lawyers can make a career and adequate living out of helping regular folks navigate the legal morass, look clients in the eye when presenting a bill, and know everyone got something of quality in the exchange. This glut is good news, it will weed out those just looking for the $$$ to be made from helping those too well off get richer, from corporations wanting to increase their profit margins at the expense of workers and customers, those wanting to perpetuate the status quo that just isn't working. It's also good news in that it'll require some creativity to succeed in practice. And with any luck, will lead to shutting down one or two law schools in MN, we have too many schools charging way too much producing too many lawyers.

6
2
stuntmonkeysJul. 13, 12 5:11 PM

unicorn: Judges issuing opinions decide whether a decide whether the opinion is published or unpublished, and it reflects their opinion of whether it contributes to the understanding of a law or legal principal. The decision is not West's. Also, I challenge you to come up with a statute to regulate much of anything complex that eliminates gray areas. It sounds great in theory, but in practice I don't know how you get around all the statutory interpretation.

2
3
purplechinaJul. 13, 12 8:43 PM

@overland. There's that little issue of law graduates carrying $100,000 in non-dischargeable student loan debt, often on top of undergraduate debt. Once you're outside of Biglaw, the practice of law doesn't pay nearly as well as popular perception would have it.

3
2
ranger78Jul. 13, 12 8:48 PM

We'd be money ahead to close all law schools for several years. We have far too many attorneys now. Just lowering the class size isn't enough to solve the glut issue.

5
1
zippo12Jul. 14, 12 8:26 AM

This slight reduction in class size is only a nominal adjustment. The article correctly pointed out that it is a long shot to get a job as a new graduate, but the author is underselling the problem by using official statistics which are biased to look better than the actual situation. For example, I recently graduated from Hamline University School of Law. When I check on the career services website, the school lists hundreds of jobs. But when I narrow the search to MN and for new graduates, then there are always less than TEN jobs available. Furthermore, when I weed through those jobs, there has sometimes been only one or two jobs available for the 200+ graduates (Hamline often will list jobs that aren't legal jobs, or even good jobs at that--such as going door to door for Clean Water organizations!). Currently I am considered an "employed graduate," for I am still working at my PT job (non-law related) that I had during school to help pay some of the bills. MOST of the students that these schools say are employed are NOT employed in their chosen field. Another significant group are simply clerking for judges on a one or two year basis, then they will be out of a job, too. As for the praise you gave Dean Lewis, I assure you it is unearned. I have emailed him several times during my time at Hamline, and he never once returned an email. Most recently, I sought a reference from him, since I had him as an instructor, but once again, no reply. What arrogance and lack of concern for his students.

2
0

Comment on this story   |  

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT