I have read a few recent posts, including one from Campos, about the clueless boomers. I have written about the boomers myself in some of my earlier posts (see “Grey Dawn”). As time passes, and the scams of the Legal-Education Industrial Complex become less of a controversial culture-shock and more of a common understanding, I have seen more posts and comments by the silent majority of boomer lawyers who hate the scam as much as the rest of us. Even Thane Messinger has recently come out of the closet.
I am happy to see more boomers break their silence. When we hear from them, it is easier to understand that many of them face similar problems. Well, maybe not similar to the younger generation, but the financial problems are comparable in magnitude.
Most of the “Gen X/Y” lawyers and ex-lawyers are drowning in debt with no foreseeable out. Similarly, many of the boomer lawyers have not ended up where they thought they would at the end of their lawyer journey. Many have seen their salary stagnate or even decrease over the years. Many have resorted to the solo-by-default floundering that many of us newer lawyers face. While boomers enjoy certain systemic advantages due to their connections and control of the bar associations, they still face the endless hordes of new lawyers spilling out of the endless law schools that keep opening. While us younger lawyers were sold the bill of goods about our profession being a stable place to work, the boomers actually experienced this stability (more or less) at one point but slowly had the rug pulled out as the law schools threw all commonsense to the wind.
I have been one of those new lawyers that have felt antipathy toward the boomers because they at least have experienced some form of long-term employment. Their gripes can feel disingenuous because often their complaints have less to do with total desperation relating to unemployment and more to do with not making enough to keep the big house, the private school tuition for kids, the vacations, and all of the other boomer-entitlements.
However, this view leaves out the many realities that countless boomers face as the Legal-Education Industrial Complex churns out more desperate lawyers that can replace experienced lawyers for a fraction of the salary. Even worse, most older lawyers do not have much versatile experience, as they tended to specialize in one specific aspect of law, and many have never litigated. So, getting another job or going solo can sink them in the same way that it sinks most new graduates.
Even some of our successful boomers that visit this site (like JeffM) make good money but never talk about familial obligations. I am curious if JeffM would sing such a positive tune if he was putting three kids through school, paying for family vacations, etc. I have never heard him speak of his personal life, and he may not be uncommon. Sometimes, I get the impression that the most successful boomers did not buy into the scam of living the suburban family life and committing to the debt obligations that come with it (real estate and college and whatnot).
With more boomers speaking out, change will be more likely, as boomers still hold disproportionate power over the political process. Yes, it will be slow and incremental because the 1% of boomers running the show will fight all change tooth and nail, whether they do so in their capacity as judges, bar officers, politicians, or professors/scam deans. It is important to develop this coalition and remember that many of the boomers—perhaps most—got screwed as well. Perhaps they did not get screwed in precisely the same way as us, but the end result is similar. No money, no way out.
So, next time you see a scam dean like Nick Allard targeting boomers, promising a second law career to replace a first pre-recession career, remember that so many of these boomers have fallen into the same mousetrap as the rest of us.