Thursday, December 12, 2013

The NYC Bar Association Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession, which includes eight law school deans, declares that the "perceived oversupply of lawyers is largely illusory."

The New York City Bar Association Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession recently issued a 135-page report on legal careers in the 21st century, entitled "Developing Legal Careers and Delivering Justice in the 21st Century (hereinafter: "Report").

The Task Force boasts that its membership is "broadly representative of the profession in New York and nationally." ("Report, p. i) Indeed, the 35-member Task Force includes 19 persons who are Big Law partners or are General Counsels or Chief Legal Officers of major corporations. It also includes eight law school deans, and two other persons who are employed by law schools. That is so representative that maybe the rest of us should all just fall silent, and let the Task Force speak for us.

The Task Force boasts that its members "approached the work from different backgrounds and with different perspectives." (Report, p. i) Indeed, the Task Force includes among its members the Dean of New York Law School, as well as another person whose job title is "Advisor to the Dean, New York Law School." So we get the radically "different perspectives" of both the Dean of a school with a 37% nine-month-out bar-passage-required employment rate, and the Advisor whom he employs.

The Report dismisses the "wide-spread handwringing" and "common lament" (Report, p. 1, 108) about a saturated legal market, finding that the "perceived oversupply of lawyers is largely illusory." (Report, p. 1) According to the Report, the problem lies elsewhere, in the mysterious failure to match the supply of lawyers with unmet legal needs.


According to the Task Force, the recent laments about an alleged "oversupply" of lawyers are ironic. Not just false, but "ironic," in that there are too few lawyers to handle the huge demand for legal services.

  • "Perhaps most importantly, there is a huge unmet demand for legal services across America among middle-class households of moderate means: an irony given the common lament about the "oversupply" of lawyers." (Report, p. 1)

Did you know that more than half of American households are afflicted with at least one unmet legal need? Given the extent of the crisis, maybe we should empower law schools to conscript recent college grads into their 1L classes. 

  • "The most comprehensive study of the legal needs of persons of moderate means is the 1994 ABA Consortium on Legal Services and the Public, Legal Needs and Civil Justice: A Survey of Americans: Major Findings from the Comprehensive Legal Needs Study. . . found that 52% of moderate-income households faced at least one legal need. Our research confirms that the need for legal services for persons of moderate means, if anything, has increased since the 1994 survey. (Report, p. 89)

There is no oversupply of lawyers, simply a weird failure to match lawyers who need clients with clients who need lawyers. Think of it this way: underemployed recent law grads are huddled at one end of the dance hall, and "large portions of the U.S. population" are huddled at the other. What pitiful "lack of confidence" prevents them from sauntering over to each other, and tripping the law fantastic?

  • "There is a need to reconcile the perceived oversupply of new lawyers with the persistent unmet legal needs of large portions of the U.S. population. We believe that many new lawyers could develop sustainable legal practices serving Americans of moderate means who have legal needs and who can afford to pay something, but who do not now obtain legal advice because of competing priorities for limited resources, a lack of confidence in the value of being represented by counsel, and the difficulty of finding the right lawyer at an affordable price." (Report, p. 11)

Or think of it this way: recent law graduates are starving to death at the Super-Glutton All You Can Eat Buffet because they are too dim to realize that there is food underneath those plate lids.

  • "Why have large numbers of underemployed law graduates not been driven to address this unmet need in their attempts to build sustainable careers?" (Report, p. 97)

Maybe the problem is that today’s youth are technologically unsophisticated. The cost-savings made possible by newer technologies allow lawyers to profitably represent the middle class, but recent grads just don’t see it. What do you have to do these days to persuade a kid to turn on a damned electronic device?

  • "We believe that newer business models, technologies, and innovative practices can provide better opportunities to meet these needs while providing satisfying and remunerative long-term career opportunities for new lawyers." (Report, p. 12) 

Or maybe the problem is that new lawyers are too citified, refusing to abandon Park Avenue, or the elegant leafy burbs, for rural Green Acres, where the simple country folk often pray for a recent law school grad to move to town and sell them legal services.

  • "There are, for example, many areas of New York State outside New York City and its suburbs that have few attorneys in residence, yet populations with legal needs." (Report, p. 13)

  • "Rural areas, for example, are rife with underserved legal needs." (Report, p. 97)

Or maybe the problem is that new lawyers, with their media-driven fantasies of Big Law wealth, are just too egotistical to devote themselves, Atticus Finch-like, to the needs of the common people.

  • "We also believe that there are additional, existing opportunities for new lawyers who have flexible career goals and realistic economic expectations. In recent decades, many law schools, law students, prospective law students and the press have been unduly focused on "BigLaw" jobs and their high starting salaries." (Report, p. 5)

Law deans and law professors can help remedy the crisis by persuading their students not to be such greedy bastards. Or, to put it gently, they could shift their students’ paradigm.

  • "But what would the profession look like, and what could be achieved for law graduates, law schools, and—most importantly—people with unmet legal needs, if the paradigm were to shift: if schools and students were encouraged to recognize the value and professional rewards of pursuing a private viable legal practice aimed at delivering affordable services to people of moderate means and to adjust their career support services and career expectations accordingly?" (Report. p. 98)

You know what would be "game-changing"? Easy credit for insufficiently indebted law grads. (What would be really cool is if we could make those loans non-dischargeable).

  • "In particular, access to outside capital could be a game-changing development in providing legal advice to the moderate- and low income individuals who currently have unmet legal needs." (Report, p. 86)

Let us not put all blame on young lawyers though, when some of the fault lies with the public. As with many gamblers or drinkers, American middle class households are in denial. They need to be informed that they have a problem, a problem of unmet legal needs, and require professional assistance.

  • "[M]iddle-class households gave several reasons for not seeking legal assistance. The principal reasons were that the households did not identify their problem as a legal issue, thought a lawyer was unnecessary to resolve it, or did not believe a lawyer would be useful." (Report, p. 90)

You had me persuaded, Task Force, and I was prepared to do my part by offering to convert my scamblog column into a law school recruiting tool. Then you mentioned, three-quarters of the way through the Report, that lawyers are often not needed to address unmet legal needs.  

  • "We also recognize that in certain circumstances, non-lawyers can provide an important service to individuals who need help and assistance resolving law-related issues. . . . [S]ome of the tasks involved in assisting low-income individuals are relatively simple and, in appropriate circumstances, could be performed effectively by non-lawyers with some degree of training, or even by untrained but intelligent laypersons." (Report, p. 99)

  • "[N]on-lawyers already provide legal services in limited circumstances in New York, including in landlord-tenant disputes, foreclosure actions, consumer credit cases, family court, tribal courts, and administrative proceedings regarding social security benefits, immigration, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation, with better outcomes for the clients. . . . The Task Force applauds these initiatives, specifically encouraging additional study to find roles for non-lawyer practitioners in areas where the market will not bear the costs of a full lawyer." (Report, p. 99)

No, you don't always require a lawyer to address your relatively uncomplicated legal need. Just like you don't always require a doctor to address your minor medical need. Sometimes you can address your medical need simply by consulting a non-doctor with "some degree of training," or an "untrained but intelligent" layperson, or by availing yourself of online resources, or by taking an extra-strength Tylenol. This last option is how I chose to address the pounding headache I experienced after reading the deceitful and highfalutin' 135-page whitewash produced by the New York City Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession. 


  1. First of all, these bitches and hags act as if producing dense $elf-intere$ted reports makes their case solid. News flash, ABA pigs: you have no case and no argument. There are simply too many JDs pumped out for the available number of attorney openings each year. Hell, just head to NALP, US Department of Labor, Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., etc., for that information.

    Secondly, the pieces of trash who compiled this report produced this garbage knowing that other "law professors" and shills will cite to it, when they make their "case" that law school is a good investment. That is only the case for the academic parasites, not for the vast majority of students.

    Lastly, the NEED doesn't matter to the legions of employed, semi-employed, and unemployed lawyers out there. THE ABILITY FOR CLIENTS TO PAY is what counts. Sure, most people in this country may have the need for legal services at some point in their lives. However, are broke-ass, recently-minted attorneys supposed to do the work for free?!?!

    Great work and coverage as always, dybbuk.

    1. I wouldn't worry about what case the ABA and legal educational establishment make. As long as there are tens of thousands of law graduates who are unemployed, in non-legal jobs, or in marginal jobs and are willing to complain about it, the word will get out.

      That's what the legal educational establishment doesn't get. They think that they can convolute the truth, because they have been able to do so for the last two decades, What they don't get is that there are too many unemployed law graduates - the truth can't be hidden anymore. When you have hundreds of thousands of law graduates who have poor employment outcomes and high debt and who take to the Internet, the legal field will get a bad rap, regardless of what the deans say. Who the hell wants to follow in the footsteps of individuals who are severely in debt and have poor job outcomes?

    2. Thank God for the Internet! And for bloggers like Third Tier Reality, BIDER, and this blog!!.

      During the late 1980's into the early 1990's, I went through a very moderate version of what is happening now, and there was simply no place or forum where one could express the reality of the profession. No place.

      And with lawyers being so competitive, there was no safe way to express this truth to fellow attorneys. Attorneys hid copies of "Running From the Law" (a guide to searching for careers outside law) in brown paper covers. And were assumed to be mentally unstable.

      There were no "stealth" layoffs.... law firms simply discarded 'the underproductive' members of 'this lazy generation.' Law schools were the height of prestige, and students were damned lucky to enter their inner sanctums. The younger lawyers who were experiencing the revolving door of biglaw suffered in silence.

      Preftige loves silence. Most oppressive power structures do.

      Things totally suck nowadays, I agree, but the Internet is sounding the alarm. The sight of Third Tier Reality juxtaposing law schools with fecal-laden commodoes is heartening.

      The truth can't be hidden anymore.

  2. Long time reader, first time commenter. Like so many other posts on this blog, this is fantastic. Great, great job. And hilarious, to boot. You can tell how far the tide has turned when NYLS is so desperate for some shred of propoganda to counter reality that they feel compelled to cloak themselves with the brand of the New York City Bar Association in a desperate, and futile, attempt to sound legitimate. Keep up the great work.

  3. •"Perhaps most importantly, there is a huge unmet demand for legal services across America among middle-class households of moderate means: an irony given the common lament about the "oversupply" of lawyers." (Report, p. 1)

    Absolutely fucking disgusting.

    I am getting so sick of having to say this. When there were fewer lawyers there wasn't a mad scramble for the kind of routine, fixed-fee work that kept law offices humming along, allowing lawyers to hit the occasional big fee while cutting some slack now and then to people of moderate means.

    In my state the criminal courts are awash with real estate lawyers offering discount felony defense services because they can't get enough house closings anymore to keep the lights on.

  4. The idea that there is some vast unmet need for legal services is a myth that has been created out of whole cloth by desperate law schools seeking to justify their unconscionable actions. Another such myth is the “JD Preferred” job - which is about as common as a leprechaun riding a unicorn.
    As for NYLS - it is particularly desperate. In three years (from the fall of 2010 to the fall of 2013) it has seen its entering class enrollment go from 641 to 326 (only 243 of whom are full time). At the same time, the median LSAT for the entering class has gone from 155 to 151. And keep in mind, NYLS is a stand-alone - no parent university to pull its bacon out of the fire. Small wonder its bond rating was recently downgraded.

    1. More like a leprechaun riding a unicorn in a leap year when the Cubs win the World Series.

  5. Another great post, Dybbuk.

    It's "dolphin in the net" syndrome all over again. Sure there's plenty of dolphins trapped and looking for environmental lawyers, but who is going to pay the lawyers?

    Same with the middle class. They may have legal needs (like what?) but they can't afford to pay the extortionate rates lawyers must charge to remain profitable.

    If lawyers could charge a more reasonable $50 per hour, the needs would be met. But that would mean law schools could only charge $10,000 per year in tuition so their grads don't have mortgage sized debt to pay off, which requires high hourly rates.

    So once again law schools are the heart of the entire fucking problem, and this is more bullshit to cover up that GLARINGLY OBVIOUS FACT.

    1. You know a thought. Law Schools could maybe buy office buildings, provide free rent, copying services, computers and malpractice insurance to younger lawyers who could then afford to charge $50 per hour for their services. Law Schools would then be providing a service to the disenfranchised middle class they so want to help.

    2. A lot of them are going to have empty buildings in the very near future.

    3. Law schools could also provide legal education, so that new lawyers could afford to provide free or low-cost services to the middle and lower classes. After all, we all know how much the law schools want to help these individuals.

    4. I'll grant you a free office space, free office utilities, free health and malpractice insurance, a new computer/printer from Santa, and a smoking hot secretary/receptionist who has a JD and PhD but who will work for you for $15/hour under terms of an inheritance....

      All you've gotta pay for is your apartment, your car/gas, and your food.

      OK. Given all those things, just see how many middle-class clients you can find who can afford to pay you $50/hour for anything approaching 8 hours of legal work. See how many hours you have to work to get that money... and then try paying the self-employment taxes.

      The whole concept of charging by the hour is outmoded and never was all that realistic when applied to the "common person client." The middle class requires a flat fee... and you've gotts get that up front. The lawyer is on the hook for the rest....expenses, time, etc.

      Next time, let's hear from a Task Force consisting of people who have soloed for at least 5 years during the last 10.

  6. "But what would the profession look like, and what could be achieved for law graduates, law schools, and—most importantly—people with unmet legal needs, if the paradigm were to shift: if schools and students were encouraged to recognize the value and professional rewards of pursuing a private viable legal practice aimed at delivering affordable services to people of moderate means and to adjust their career support services and career expectations accordingly?"

    Oh, I don't know. When will law schools adjust the cost of obtaining a JD accordingly? Or do law profs and administrators get a special exemption from this new "tighten-your-belt-and-lower-your-expectations" paradigm they propose?

    1. I agree. If legal needs are unmet because families can't pay, then maybe the schools should lower tuition so they can charge rates middle class families can afford.

      Or, let people sit for the bar without going through law school. No debt = lower rates = more met legal needs for those of moderate incomes.

  7. Wow!
    Sterling effort by the New York Bar.
    Relying on a single, almost 20 year old study by the ABA to come to the conclusion that there is a vast un-met middle-class need for lawyers. So let us ignore the rise of the Internet, the hollowing out of the middle class, the rise of "do it yourself" lawyering, etc.

    It seems fairly obvious that they ginned up this entire thing. The people on the "Task force" are prestigious, yeah, but I doubt very much they did any work on this. People at that level very rarely actually do any "work." Mostly they have meetings and tell other people what to do, while burnishing their resumes. It seems like a few people (i.e., the "task force") were directed to reach a predetermined conclusion so they sat around in a bull session and threw a bunch of arguments at the wall.

    It's hard for me to decide whether the swine only lack empathy or whether it's outright mendacity that prompts them to produce these reports and promulgate the scam. Ultimately it doesn't matter, but I always like to know why. I think it might be a combination of the two.

    First, I think most of the people at the top have NO IDEA what the legal needs are of the middle class. I can count on one hand the number of times I have used a lawyer in my 40+ years (two house closings). My parents very rarely used a lawyer, nor my brothers and sisters. My friends have needed an attorney at most once. This vast un-met need simply does not exist, and who the hell in the middle class has $500 or $1000 to spend on an attorney for something like a civil suit?
    These people obviously cannot comprehend a world without private schools for their children, vacation homes on Martha's vineyard or in Florida, late-model European cars, private secretaries and wood paneled offices, etc. The richer you become, the less empathetic you become, and rich New Yorkers are the makeup of this "Task Force."

    1. Great post. And bonus points for getting the word "mendacity" in there. Haven't heard that one in a while ;p

      This is Lippman-esque crap..

      Yes, there is a huge unmet need for legal services. But those most in need, for various reasons, cannot pay for said services. This need, also, does not correlate with a need for more attorneys. What is does indicate, possibly, is that decades of Corporate Welfare have impoverished everyone else but the 1% and that drastic action / wealth redistribution, starting with corporations and the 1% who own them, are in order. A fantasy, I know, since he who has the gold makes the rules. Money needs to be shifted around in a circle vs. the Wal-Mart model for some degree of prosperity. We've reached a point, including college and legal education, where the only thing people care about is how much money how fast. It's "Kick the Can Down the Road" on steroids.. We'll be Mexico in probably a decade or something like Columbia where the rich live in gated communities and everyone else lives in squalor and poverty.

    2. It seems the law scum have found their ephemeral argument that will never change: unmet need of the common folk that will never be met because of economics. The allied health care education scum have their ephemeral argument too: unmet need in the hinterland. This will also not be met for economical reasons. (You can't have a practice/pharmacy if there are no people around. Likewise, a county with a population of 1000 could only support one pharmacy and a part-time NP.)

  8. Dammit!!! Dont charge me 40k a year to be bullied by pseudo intellectualls who never really practiced law. I will help these americans with legal help but charge me 10k a year for my course work that only leads to a bar prep course. These self serving SOBs. Rot in hell. Dont go to law school. Not until some sanity is returned to the people who run these institutions. Lets just go to outright war with these clowns.

  9. I'm sensing a rather pleasing build up of rage in these comments. Perhaps this is the year that the message finally breaks properly, instead of the meh response it's received over the past years? Not through a lack of effort though. Just a lack of dummies willing to listen, and who prefer to read trash like the report highlighted in this post.

  10. This continues the disappointing trend of the NY judiciary and bar totally ignoring the realities of the legal profession in one of the most glutted states (and city) in an attempt to maintain the profitable status quo. Good job with calling BS. -AdamB

  11. Imagining the Open ToadDecember 12, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    Would someone who has already downloaded that monstrosity be kind enough to list the 35 task force members and their positions here in the comments section?

    I don't want to download it directly from the NYCBar website or encourage others to do so.... they'll probably just use download counts later as part of their claims about how much "reach" and "influence" the paper has.

    1. One of the task force member is NYDA Cyrus Vance, who followed a simple two step process upon graduating from law school:

      First, make sure your father is a former Cabinet Secretary.
      Second, start fabulous and lucrative legal career.

      Vance's predecessor at Hogan Place followed the same plan.

    2. I'm sure that Vance gave this issue his deepest considerations before he signed his name on the dotted line.

  12. Imagining the Open ToadDecember 12, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    But of course the middle class desperately needs lawyers.

    We all need lawyers.

    If we didn't have lawyers, we'd have to go back to slinging jokes at Pollacks.

    See? It's just that simple.

  13. The only time that the middle class is going to spend any of its hard-earned money on legal fees, as opposed to the hundreds of other more pressing needs it faces, is when:
    1) They have a DWI or criminal charge that can result in jail time.
    2) They are buying a house.
    3) They are dealing with divorce / custody issues.
    4) They are filing for bankruptcy

    There are small-town lawyers falling over themselves to get all of these cases. Get a traffic ticket and see how many lawyer letters you get in the mail.

    Moreover, an hourly billing rate isn't the lawyer's hourly wage. Try running an office, paying bar dues, malpractice fees, etc., on the suggested $50.00 per hour billing rate.

  14. Another terrific post. It's remarkable that it took a consortium of law school deans and big firm partners to discover that the key to make a living as a lawyer is to charge middle class people $50 an hour for legal services.

    One note: the cost of law school has nothing to do with the cost of legal services. There are hundreds of thousands of people with law degrees and no debt, and they don't charge less for legal services than heavily indebted law grads (they can't afford to). No client is going to pay more for legal services because a lawyer has educational debt.

    1. Imagining the Open ToadDecember 12, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      "No client is going to pay more for legal services because a lawyer has educational debt."

      This is an important point that either Paul or his commenters at ITLSS fleshed out a year or more ago on that forum. While it's true that debt may drive a graduate toward the highest paying job s/he can find, it can't motivate a client.

    2. "...[I]n a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded by consumers (at current price) will equal the quantity supplied by producers (at current price), resulting in an economic equilibrium for price and quantity." (Wiki).

      That is, price is function of supply and demand. Price is not a function of cost.

      For many liberal arts majors, this is a tough concept to grasp. But grasp it you must.

    3. If I remember correctly, Campos analogized it to a customer at a restaurant not wanting to pay more for her food because the restaurant-owner is highly leveraged.

      Would I pay an extra $2 for a Big Mac because the owner mortgaged the heck out of his McD's?

  15. Most middleclass people have difficulty ponying up any sort of retainer fee in excess of $1,000 There is a limited amount of work to be done drafting wills and doing real estate closings and its a buyer's market. But assuming that one is looking for paying clients, there is not a large, untapped market out there capable of supporting a glut of lawyers. Says the guy who is doing a simple, uncontested divorce for a friend. (no property, kids or alimony) for $250.

    1. When you work for clients of modest means you often lose money and get stiffed on filing fees and expenses. This NY proposal is either spiteful or clueless. NO MORE lawyers.

  16. The ABA and law schools have no authority. They have run the legal industry into the ground and destroyed countless young lives in the process. My life was ruined by my utterly foolish decision to go to law school. I will regret it to my grave. I cannot afford housing, a car, food, or to support a family because of my law school debt. I wish nothing but the absolute worst to everyone who profits from the legal education system. They are liars, thieves, and deceptive pigs. Slowly, very slowly, the truth is getting out. Tens of thousands of lives are destroyed each year so law professors, deans, and other shills can earn $200,000+ (often, much higher). They can burn in hell.

    1. So true. Only in America can you destroy your life by trying to improve it.

  17. great, entertaining post. Thanks.


  18. "Or think of it this way: recent law graduates are starving to death at the Super-Glutton All You Can Eat Buffet because they are too dim to realize that there is food underneath those plate lids."
    Fantastic! Great Analogy!

  19. "We believe that many new lawyers could develop sustainable legal practices serving Americans of moderate means who have legal needs and who can afford to pay something, but who do not now obtain legal advice because of competing priorities for limited resources."

    "Something" = a box of roofing nails or perhaps a busted toaster. Try not to spend it all in one place, counselor!

  20. Kind of like saying the complaints of heavily indebted veterinary students are illegitimate because this country is inundated with stray cats and dogs. The newly licensed vets have just been looking for the wrong animals.

    1. Imagining the Open ToadDecember 12, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      Yep. Those snooty white-shoed new vets who, with their media-driven fantasies of Big Vet wealth, have been imagining working on Bengal Tigers and Lipizzaner Stallions are just too egotistical to devote themselves, Dr. Doolittle-like, to imagining the needs of the Open Toad.

    2. Imagining the Open ToadDecember 12, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      (Sorry, I should have added: credit dybbuk with most of the lyrical language. I just adapted it.)

  21. Hmm 19 biglaw partners or CLO's, plus 10 people who make their living off law schools. I wonder who the other members were? Did this task force (I use that term advisedly, as "task" implies that one actually does something) include any recent law school graduates who can't find legal jobs? Did it include any solo practitioners who are hustling to keep the bills paid? Did it include any lawyers working in any government agency, who can attest to the hundreds of applications that are received for any job opening they have?

    These are great comments re: there is no vast "unmet legal needs" market and if there was, most people in this country can't afford what lawyers have to charge to keep a practice afloat.

    These clowns are all part of the 1%. They have no idea what the reality of the legal "profession" is for the vast majority of lawyers.

  22. There isn't a real "demand" for legal services among Americans of moderate means, any more than there is a demand for top-of-the-line BMWs in rural Bangladesh. There may well be a "desire" for legal services. But there will only be an actual demand if the services (or the BMWs) come cheap enough (i.e. damn near free.)

  23. I've been practicing forever and have only made good money because of contingency fees. It is very rare that I find anybody wants to pay cash for consultations or advice or representation. I even have people who want ME to pay for their medical treatment or to spend my money to pay for experts to see if they have any sort of case. They almost expect it. I get lots of people who want to sue other people . . but if I ask for a retainer, even a small amount, they almost always walk. Its very, very rare that they don't.

    1. This is so true, in spades. Don't forget, the clients that want you to advance them mone on their settlement (very unethical). You explain that the state Supreme Court forbids this practice and the get angry at you!

  24. Great read, can't believe the scam apologists...


  26. Amazingly perceptive, this New York Task Force on New Lawyers. Now, I'll admit that I am too lazy to read the entire report, dybbuk123. I am just curious, anything in the report about the impact of ever-increasing tuition on graduates expectations (or rather, desperation) about obtaining decent job outcomes?

    Or, did the task force just assume that graduates in the last few years have become overwhelmingly focused on the almighty dollar after graduating for no apparent reason?

    1. There are a few good lines here and there in the report (See quote 1, below), and maybe I should have given the Task Force credit for them. But they read like asides. The Report's themes are the middle class's alleged unmet legal needs, the need to harness the power of technology to meet the demands of our changing profession, and the need for law schools to innovate in the area of experiential education. (The terms "innovate" or "innovation" appear 58 times in the report). And the Task Force stretches out its basic points and very general recommendations, into 135 pages. Lots of repetition and committee-speak blather. One of the few things they are clear and specific about is that the third year of law school should not be eliminated. (See quote 2, below)

      1, "This debt burden has grown substantially over the years, from an average of $47,000 in 1999 to $98,500 in 2010.13 These debt loads impact the career choices of law graduates. Studies show that most law students need to earn around $65,000 a year—more than the median starting salary for 2011 graduates—to service their debt while maintaining even a modest standard of living." (Report, p. 19-20)

      2. "While we agree that controlling the cost of legal education is an important goal, we fundamentally believe that, at least at this time, eliminating the third year is not the right instrument to accomplish it. Indeed, the need for better- prepared lawyers suggests the need for more training, not less." (Report, p. 52)

  27. "Developing Legal Careers and Delivering Justice in the 21st Century"

    What utter horse shit. Makes me ashamed of the profession.

    Legal "careers" in any conventional sense of the word ceased to exist over a decade ago. The instability created by the law schools' repeated vomiting forth of new graduates ... and the concomitant need for older lawyers to keep working well into their seventies or beyond... have now combined to result in a marketplace that's now hyper-saturated and unstable beyond belief. The few lawyers that have conventional 'jobs' or in firms with set salaries find that their positions are a cross between the Hunger Games and Survivor.

    Don't tell me about "careers" in law; it's your neverending struggle to chase after ever more elusive work (not all of which is paying... or even self-sustaining work).

    "Delivering Justice." Justice is delivered by the judiciary through the courts. A set of opposing lawyers is one part of the justice system, but the individual lawyer does not concern herself with 'justice'... rather, she advances her client's interest.

    The NYC Bar Association is really about creating a market for legal services .... "a huge unmet demand for legal services across America among middle-class households of moderate means...." Hogwash!!

    The middle class has need of legal services --and get them thanks to the contingency fee system-- in cases of personal injury. Most of their other problems stem from their lack of money and inability to pay it to their creditors. Yes, there is a market for criminal, family law, and divorce, but this has long been addressed by the surfeit of attorneys out there.

    Pure and utter shit.

  28. I think there's unmet legal demand. How many times a day do friends, family members, etc ask me legal questions? Many times.

    Were I were to accept minimum wage as my hourly fee, those clients of modest means still couldn't afford me, AND I couldn't afford to live MUCH LESS BE COMPENSATED FOR 7 YEARS of educational costs and opportunity costs and lifestyle costs etc etc etc etc

    Congrats, NY Bar Association, you've discovered that the legal industry is parasitic. We don't produce anything - not even a single #2 pencil. Legal services are a luxury, and times are tight and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

    This distortion between cost to give a legal service and what people can afford is created by you assholes and by the government, largely. A law license is a 7 YEAR credential in the united states - 7 YEARS of being raped by a price-fixed higher educational system! Then consider the costs of litigating which are skyrocketing everywhere. Then consider the cost of figuring out what the damn law is growing more complex and money determines winners.

    The nitwits at the NY Bar Association can f off.

  29. Excellent post. What's truly sad about the report is that it was published by the New York City Bar Association. Unlike other bar associations, this one was specifically formed to fight corruption and speak truth to power. It appears that now it is just another captured bastion of privilege. From the wikipedia entry:

    "The Association of the Bar of the City of New York (now known as the New York City Bar Association) was founded in 1870 in response to growing public concern over corruption among judges and lawyers in New York City. Several of its early officers, including William M. Evarts and Samuel Tilden, were active in seeking the removal of corrupt judges and in leading prosecutions of the notorious Tweed Ring. It counted many of the country’s most prominent lawyers among its officers, including Elihu Root, Charles Evans Hughes, and Samuel Seabury."

    I think if Samuel Tilden were alive today, he would be on this web site and not writing such drivel on behalf of the New York City Bar Ass'n.

  30. "Pay no attention to the oversupply behind the curtain!"


    This has to do with higher education in general, but much also applies to law school these days.

    Money quote: "If we are lending money that ostensibly we don't have to kids who have no hope of making it back in order to train them for jobs that clearly don't exist, I might suggest that we've gone around the bend a little bit."

  32. Stop whining and pay the debt you borrowed. You gambled, you lost. Get over it.

    1. For those who already "lost" there is still something to be gained for preventing others from "losing" in the future idiot troll.

    2. Thus spake the Dean.

    3. 2:41 pm -

      Gambling debts are dischargable in bankruptcy.

      So I'm delighted you support making student loans dischargable too.

    4. Yay! Just in time for Christmas, Bankruptcy Jesus is back, and He ain't gonna foot the bill for our mistakes.

      Can I get a righteous "Pay your bills, dude"?

  33. Agreed 100%. If ABCNY is setting up a committee to make recommendations on legal education, the makeup of the committee should be representative of law graduates. Only half of law graduates are actually working as lawyers. Last time I looked about a third of law graduates were solo practitioners. The law schools the committee members graduate from should be representative of the legal profession.

    To suggest that there is a demand for legal services that the public is unwilling or unable to pay for is specious. It is terrible and a fraud on those who have law degrees and are either unemployed or underemployed.

    I am ashamed that the lawyers on this committee are so immersed in self-interest that they cannot or will not see the bitter reality of no employment opportunities for more than half of the people with law degrees in our country. As Paul Campos has pointed out many times, the situation is still getting worse every year with the continuing surplus of law graduates over lawyer jobs.

  34. There are volunteers for some types of work. If ABCNY set up a hiring hall where any licensed lawyer could show up and do work that day - for free, with malpractice forever covered by ABCNY, they may well get free legal services for many more people in need. There is no question that ABCNY could train a corps of on call lawyers and could get an army of daily volunteers with a hiring hall on the premises of ABCNY and a space to work in.

    One problem is that any group of volunteers is going to take away paying work from lawyers whose incomes are barely above the poverty level. That is real issue where there are many more lawyer service providers than PAYING users of legal services.

    The unwillingness of the public to pay for legal services is the key factor. So called need for legal services is completely immaterial if the public can and will do without those legal services. This is what economists call inelastic demand.

    Yes, you can get customers who will use legal services for free, but you are never going to get enough paying customers to keep the supply of lawyers busy on a PAYING basis.

    The government is not stepping in here. The need is not important enough on the scale of things for the government to fund legal services the way they are doing with medical care. That is that.

    The only answer is to reduce the supply of lawyers so the supply is not larger than the demand including paying customers and criminal cases that the government will fund to defend on its own dime.