Photo credit: @julesdwit.
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The cover of the August 5, 2013 issue of The New Republic.
(The New Republic)
Noam Scheiber, senior editor at The New Republic, joins us to talk about his piece on the challenges facing large law firms and how they mirror larger threats to the legal profession.
@jgarbuz from Queens:
Either you're a doctor....or just living in a bizarro fantasy world.
The giant law firms are NOT the relatively podunk personal injury lawyers. They are the huge firms that have moved into DC, so they can help the multinational corps lobby to get our nation's laws changed for their benefit, to allow the corps to get free of regulation and taxes, and in general to warp our Congress to make the corps money--all at the peoples' expense--ie, those Congress is supposed to serve.
So we have a legal structure that favors coal, oil, energy, multinationals, Big Food, Tobacco, etc.--all thanks to the likes of Arnold & Porter, Chadbourne & Park, Kirkland & Ellis, Covington Burling, etc. You can't even introduce a law that favors people without these firms jumping all over you like white on rice.
As a long-term employee of a Big Law firm, I've seen the culture change dramatically since the recession, even while profits have skyrocketed.
I've been privy to partnership profit statements, and I know that between 2005 and 2012, per-share profits have risen nearly four-fold. Worldwide, there are hundreds of partners earning more than $5 million a year, with a few dozen collecting more than $10 million annually.
At the same time, my firm, which is well positioned to be one of the handful to weather the shake-out in Big Law, laid off all of its part-time staff, froze salaries for three years and cut bonuses. More associates are squeezed out in their third and fourth years, before they can become partners, leaving a team of inexperienced (and less expensive) junior associates who are happy for the opportunity to pay off their law school debt.
All of which sounds a lot like what's happened in the economy at large.
Look into Outsourcing to india, of both legal and paralegal work. With Indian lawyers making 18k a year and being well off.
The real problem is the law schools. There's just too many law schools, too many lawyers.
When the economy tanked, then clients didn't want to spend the money, and law firms started to get rid of this army of over paid employees.
Now, there's thousands of lawyers, young and old, with Harvard degrees, 200k in debt, and doing contract lawyer work where they get paid $30/hr.
Can you see the crock-adile tears running down my cheeks for these "poor" law firm associates?
Hey, laid off or not, these associates are making more in one year than most people make in more than a decade. Maybe 2 or 3 decades!
If they, with all their education, don't know enough to save and to live a more modest lifestyle, then too bad on them. I for one am going to save my sympathies for those who truly need them.
Make it rain, rainmaker.
The legal profession is just another example of liberalism-gone-wild. Like other protected and mostly "liberal" professions, like teaching and journalism. All protecting themselves from outside scrutiny and criticisms. Go sue a lawyer, a tenured college teacher, or journalist and see how far you get. You can easily sue a doctor, because the liberals tore down the AMA and reduced doctors to mere workers, while building up legal and political protections for themselves. It's why the Democrats can count on the legal lobby, the teacher unions, and journalistic support for the most part. This offsets Republican support by the oil and other fossil fuel industries.
Could the concentration of wealth coupled with the proliferation of law graduates be backfiring?
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