Dozens of law graduates across the nation have joined class-action lawsuits alleging that law schools lured them in with misleading reports of their graduates’ success.
Instead of working in the law, some of the graduates were toiling at hourly jobs in department stores and restaurants and struggling to pay back more than $100,000 in loans used to finance their education. Others were in temporary or part-time legal positions…
Nearly 20 lawsuits — five of them against California schools — are being litigated at a time of dim employment prospects for lawyers. Much of the work once done by lawyers can now be done more quickly by computers.
Online services have made law libraries largely unnecessary, allowing corporations to do more work in-house. Software has sped the hunt for information needed in discovery and other legal tasks, and Web-based companies offer litigants legal documents and help in filling them out. Even after the economy improves, some experts believe the supply of lawyers will outstrip jobs for years to come…
New and inexperienced lawyers, unable to find jobs at law firms, are opening private practices, potentially putting clients at risk, according to a California bar report issued in February. To confront “serious issues of public protection,” a bar task force has recommended requiring practical experience as a condition of a license. The California Supreme Court would eventually have to approve the new rules…
But not everyone shares the dismal outlook. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine Law School, said his students are finding full-time jobs as lawyers even during this slow economy.
“It is not the same across all law schools when you look at employment prospects,” he said.
Rudy Hasl, dean of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, said the retirement of baby boomers also would open up jobs.
Both deans said there was huge unmet demand for legal services for the poor and middle class, and the next generation of practitioners might be able to fill that demand. The state bar agrees.
“Across the country, the need for legal services among those who cannot pay or have limited ability to pay has never been higher,” the bar report said.
Which negates the obvious reason why many of these folks became lawyers. They watch reality TV and figured on having that S-class Mercedes and a trophy spouse on their arm at the country club cotillion in a couple of years. For them, pay is what it’s all about. I wouldn’t take a welding course unless I knew how real chances were I could use it. But, that’s because I always knew I had to earn a living.
I’ve been fortunate enough to know more than a couple of good-hearted lawyers. Those who pursued the craft with an aim to make life a little bit better for ordinary folks confronting a society that couldn’t care if you died of a biblical plague from rotten food.