A Puzzlement! Non-Lawyers Desperately Need A Legal Education, And Unemployed Lawyers Think Theirs Is Worthless

 

Quick, get a non-lawyer to pay you to teach him about the law, then you will have  rent money, and he'll be unemployable!

Quick, get a non-lawyer to pay you to teach him about the law, then you will have rent money, and he’ll be unemployable!

From the Fordham Law Review comes an article making an important point about American life: it is so intertwined with laws, regulations and procedures that citizens are overwhelmed, and at risk of serious adverse consequences. This provides a function for lawyers, indeed an essential one: allowing citizens of a democracy to be protected and served by laws rather than victimized by them. That is a function lawyers often serve, however, after legal ignorance has raised the specter of harm. From the abstract of Bridget Dunlap’s “Anyone Can Think Like a Lawyer,” which argues for “legal empowerment” for non-lawyers, and the duty of  lawyers to provide it: Continue reading

The Difference Between Unemployed Scientists and Unemployed Lawyers

A front page story in today’s Washington Post casts interesting perspective on an Ethics Alarms rumble that broke out here a couple of weeks ago. One of the many websites where underemployed, over-indebted law grads hang out to commiserate—sites with pathetic names like “butidideverythingrightorsoithought”—discovered a post from the days when people were taking Occupy Wall Street seriously, in which I chided a protester whose sign blamed his law school  for his failure to  find a job, without giving due weight to the fact that sitting in a park whining about his plight wasn’t doing him any good either. Suddenly Ethics Alarms experienced an avalanche of indignant and often personally insulting comments introducing me to the strange world of the JD conspiracy theorists, who maintain that law schools engaged in an intentional conspiracy or “scam” to gull naive college grads into believing that a law degree was a sure-thing ticket to Easy Street and six-figure starting salaries.

In the Post’s report, we learn that other advanced degree-holders, namely PhDs in scientific fields, are also unable to find work or toiling in fields unrelated to their degrees. The Post says:

“Traditional academic jobs are scarcer than ever. Once a primary career path, only 14 percent of those with a PhD in biology and the life sciences now land a coveted academic position within five years, according to a 2009 NSF survey. That figure has been steadily declining since the 1970s, said Paula Stephan, an economist at Georgia State University who studies the scientific workforce. The reason: The supply of scientists has grown far faster than the number of academic positions.”

Sounds a lot like the legal market to me! Continue reading