Thought those interested might want to see it.
If it really is a Ponzi scheme with unsupportable excess of fees it should be ripe for disruption. There are legions of well educated, talented and experienced lawyers out of work or under employed. It is relatively easy to set up alternative provider groups of one, a few, or even several dozen attorneys without the fixed overhead and bureaucracy of the big firms that could provide services that meet then needs of the lower ends of the market at lower costs, and change the existing paradigm. Classic Clay Christensen disruptive innovation should be a natural.
But it hasn't happened to a great degree. There have been failures of big firms, but not wholesale destruction of the big law paradigm.
Maybe, just maybe, there are legitimate needs by clients, primarily large corporations, that require the resources of large full service law firms and that can not be easily met by other provider structures. While competition and pressure on costs and fees continue to drive out excess, the basic structure of big law remains because there appears to be a need they fulfill better than anyone else.
1) Firms, when they can, like to help senior associates that don't make partner or income partners that can't make the jump into GC (AGC) spots. That way the attorney will keep that firm as a go-to firm for legal work.
2) No general counsel got fire for hiring Cravath or MB or Skadden on an bet-the-company type of litigation or big transaction. They do get fired for hiring that alternative version. And lawyers are all about reducing risk.
3) The legal world is certainly being impacted by technology and business transformation but I would guess that will squeeze firms into big 2000 attorney law firms and small 10-20 person shops. There won't be much middle ground. The problem with MB is that they want to charge New York rates in small markets like Charlotte and Denver - that ain't gonna work.
Jones Day has a lot of ND grads: a recent managing partner is the namesake for the new mock court room at ND. He gave a talk a few years back at ND about the resources that Jones Day devotes simply to pricing and planning services. Basically, they have an entire department dedicated to figuring out how to meet client needs most efficiently and effectively and then determining what it costs to do that.
The ability that a firm that size has to conduct that sort of introspection allows them to achieve a pricing advantage over small, otherwise sleeker competitors.
There was one of those forums about career development or some such in Washington Hall, where a few ND grad titans of industry discussed the future of various fields - I remember one was trucking (transport), I forget the other, but one was definitely law.
Towards the end of the discussion I asked a question from the audience about the changes rippling through the computer hardware engineering world, which had been destroyed by many of the same greedy forces that the article cites here. But in some ways that was always the case, with companies like Sperry, Wang, Burroughs, Digital, etc all living and dying. But the difference this time was that all of the lower-end jobs were moving to India and China because technology improvements allowed that wage competition and arbitrage to occur. Basically the industry cut of its oxygen supply by taking entry level jobs out of the country. Stupid move for the future, but who cares about that, right?
I asked the titan of Law if he was worried that the same trends might work against upcoming lawyers and accountants. His answer was simply "Nah". So I feel for the folks caught in the middle of this giant transition because they obviously never saw it coming. The top end guys probably did fine, but the people behind them had a much different career path than they envisioned.
what size the firm is either.
It may not be the most appropriate of places to put it, but if you know an entrepreneurial business litigation attorney in Atlanta, I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with them. I've included my email.
I ask because my son has an interest in government and political science and is interested in a career in public policy and the like at the city, state or national level. Is a law degree worthwhile for pursuing those types of opportunities?
As an example, we have friends who just had a daughter graduate from Boston University Law School. She's working at the Federal Reserve in bank regulation.
[Note I did not post this on the politics board, so let's refrain from comments about working for the government.]
But if his general concept is to work in a policy shop related to government it will be important to have education related to the area of policy. If it is in economic policy, then a background in economics is important. If it would be foreign relations, in the State Department for instance, then a background in history or economics would likely be helpful. Graduate work in a major publid policy school is a huge plus, such as the Kennedy School at Harvard or the Sanford Institute at Duke.
One thing you could do is some web browsing. Go to the Dept of Defense and State. Each have a section under "About Us" with "Biographies" of the senior leadership. Read those of people that seem to have positions he might find interesting. I think their backgrounds will be enlightening. They are quite varied, and usually quite impressive.
Do the same at think tanks like Rand, Hoover, CSIS, CNAS. They , too, will have similar backgrounds, and in many cases are the people that have populated or will populate the jobs you look at under the DoD or State.
One thing you will notice when you go through those is the conspicuous lack of lawyers. At least at the higher levels, a law degree wouldn't be of much use.
That isn't to say that a lot of people working in state and local governments, or in legislative positions aren't lawyers. But if high end public policy is the goal, law school isn't the route.
Are the kinds that government jobs will pay for. Many agencies (including State) have fellowship programs that include a masters degree. I have a friend who started working for the Agency right after graduating from Georgetown. They paid for him to get a masters at KSG (including living expenses and a stipend) and he spent his summers interning at Langley. It was a pretty sweet deal.
I do have to chuckle about this one getting into a Harvard or Duke program. He was a challenge to get out of high school, through community college and into UC Irvine. But all it takes is for the light bulb to go off!
Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts.
MPA or the like. There are excellent grad programs for people who want to do that sort of work. Cheaper and shorter than law school, and actually teaches the skills necessary for the job. Also, internships and connections from faculty will be vital for getting a job in that field. Law school will give him none of those things.
He should get a masters and work experience (preferably both at the same time). Then, in 5 years, see where he wants his career to go and whether he absolutely, positively needs law school to do that. Then, and only then, should he go to law school.
The only people who should go to law school are those that want to actually practice law. For anything else, a masters will do.
(the same one from several years ago who you suggested Sierra Nevada to).
The oldest just graduated from UCLA and is spending the summer studying for the Dental Aptitude Test.
Some kids take a little longer to figure it out. You never know, if he does well at UC-I and gets some internship experience, rocks the GRE, he could trade up to a really good graduate school.
and go to law school at night in a few years if that's what he decides he wants to do. Getting a federal government attorney job right out of law school is very difficult. Generally it requires a federal clerkship for a year or two, which requires that he finish in the top 1/4 of his class at a good law school, or a couple years in a firm. In-house requires a couple years at a firm. I'd probably encourage him to go to the Kennedy school or something like that if he wants to be involved in policy, unless he knows for an absolute certainty that he wants to be a lawyer.
Great work if you can get it.
Litigation if it helps.
... he attend law school after several years in the job market. Instead he got his MBA seems economically better off in a shorter period of time.
securities law and regulation, admitted in New York and Colorado, who has been looking for a job in Denver for over 6 months. He entered law school just before the crash and finished ND in 2011 when everything tanked. It has been a rough time despite sterling credentials. And now have my second son starting at Northwestern Law School next month.
I know in the long run they will both do well. But it is awfully tough out there.
some kind of start-up that offers law services in an at-need way. I'm not entirely sure what their business model is, but she is an analyst for them. She originally took the job thinking she wanted to eventually go to law school. She know does not want to touch law school with a ten foot pole.
(Oh, right, that passes for "practically impoverished" among this crowd ... )
It is not good.
partners. It is actually a fascinating read though much of it is not surprising nor something that only started happening in 2007. The issues facing the Mayer (the main point of the article) are only on a grander scale than those that happened or are happening at other firms.
in 2002. Nothing new about this. The super-regional firms (a half step off the truly national firms like Sherman & Sterling, Skadden, etc.) have been tearing each other apart since the dotcom bust. They all heard the same presentation from McKinsey about going big or going home. Several went on a buying binges (Norton Rose, DLA Piper, Reed Smith), the rest started to cut themselves to pieces (Vinson & Elkins). A very special few managed to do both (Fulbright).
or you will be a dinosaur. At least, that's my understanding as I've been told by several partners who heard it from McKinsey.
The story they were pushing was that the only way to continue to increase profits per partner is to focus solely on the high end, high dollar work. Part of the way to do this is to sell into the biggest legal markets (NY, DC, London). But the other lesson was these firms could then do the same in other large, secondary markets because of the strength of their reputations. This would bleed high end work that had previously been done by the super regional firms (basically the big fish in places like Atlanta, Houston, etc.).
The bottom line was that the super regionals were told they either needed to jettison their underperforming practices (things like wills & estates and employment), double down on high end practices (M&A, bet the company litigation) and expand or take a long slow ride down the profitability curve. It was hard thing for a lot of these firms to hear since they had prided themselves on being "full service" firms, which in a previous era was the way forward. In short, they were Sears in the 1970's and 1980's - selling everything under the sun but not capturing the high-end consumer - and being told they needed to become Restoration Hardware.
practicing - 1981. It just was much more severe and there were fewer opportunities for the attorneys who were let go this time around.
In the 1980's there were several big and old firms hat collapsed. Isham Lincoln and Beale jumps to mind. The Lincoln was Todd Lincoln.
you go from that to $400 a week on unemployment.
But only until you can land a doc review gig, so no worries.
It was actually a month ago. Within 3 days, I was able to find 20 attorneys with multiple years experience at BigLaw firms, degrees from top-tier schools, and extensive doc review experience. I have multiple grads from Stanford, Northwestern, Berkeley, and (ugh!) Michigan. While some are mothers who like the flexible hours, many now consider themselves "professional" doc reviewers. I'm paying a premium at $30 per hour as most doc reviewers in Chicago are getting $25 to $27 per hour.
Unless they are supplementing their income with outside representation, (which some do) $50K to $60K per year is difficult to live on when you have a $1K+ student loan payment each month.
grad and 2011 Seton Hall law school grad in Chicago who is looking for a job and would love to have a document review job.
If the point is that rich privileged lawyers deserve to be unemployed and poor, then I guess I just don't agree.
If the point is that who cares if they're unemployed, because for awhile they made a lot of money so they should have plenty in savings, well, I can tell you there's a little truth to that. But that doesn't mean losing a job is a picnic.
If the point is that there is no problem, and people should keep taking out hundreds of thousands of dollars in non-dischargable loans to work in a collapsing industry, because if they do get a job with no stability it'll pay well for a short time, well, I disagree again.
If the point is "let's tee off on lawyers," proceed, but don't expect me to enjoy it.
Everyone who loses their job deserves a measure of sympathy.
The fact that a lawyer made more money and/or has more debt doesn't make them more or less deserving.
field these days is a delusion. So why should we feel any more sorry for a lawyer who's going to lose his 150k job than the guy who's going to lose his 50k job?
I posted the article because, for those of us in the profession, it is a fascinating (and highly accurate) analysis of the changes to large law firms over the past 10-15 years. Although the article certainly touches on the layoffs, its focus is largely how a bunch of rich lawyers have been screwing each other over and how it came to be that way.
Now, admittedly, he was responding to a rather brusque post in the first place.
In retrospect, I probably should have refrained, but I did the whole $400/week on unemployment, myself.
maybe tinged with bitterness, but my point was that unemployed is still unemployed, and that the collapsed indutry left the prospects for new employment pretty grim. Benefits max out at a threshold far below what BigLaw associates make, and a lifetime of doc review isn't what most people bargained for when they went to school.
But, believe me, my field is no better. A ton of people have left architecture and related fields completely.
Myself, I was lucky enough to land a job I hate.
If you are sending out resumes, you may wish to send one to Robert Alteveres.
He's a 1970 University of Kentucky grad.
When I was the co-chairman of the Building Committee for the Bakersfield County Club, we chose him and his firm to design our new clubhouse.
Interestingly, he doesn't list us on his website (sigh!).
He's based in San Diego.
another profession that is not necessarily cheap to enter, and when it goes south, no one else wants to hire you. For the lawyers, it's "oh, why don't you practice law?" Oh, you can hem and haw, say things like "it's a versatile degree", but it is a seriously tough sell. You can't just yell "BECAUSE THERE ARE NO FUCKING LEGAL JOBS AND I NEED TO EAT AND PAY THAT BITCH SALLIE MAE!!!!"
I've gained a ton of experience in matters personal and professional as a result of my layoff. As much as I dislike my current job, I don't hesitate to say that it has been good for me. I'm just ready to go back to a job that I enjoy.
...taps fingers waiting for residential firm to call back after last week's interview....
I'm not sure where all the architects have gone, career-wise.
It's good that you can find the positive in the situation, and use the experience to get back to doing something you love.
has managed to land on his feet as a real estate broker, after working as a receptionist and losing that gig. (He was a receptionist...at a law firm. D'oh!)
that requires 3 more years of training and excess debt yields them no special feelings from the community. With all due respect, jd (and I respect your opinion on nearly everything), nobody is forcing students to continue going to law school and racking up the debt they are achieving with the (now widespread) knowledge that their employment chances are bleak.
The question is--why do they continue to go? Why do they tolerate the cost of the education?
More importantly, why are recent grads not suing the pants off the schools that have lied about their placement rates and starting salaries? Those folks seem to have a real grievance.
He knows it's a shitty time for law school grads. I guess he thinks he'll be the exception to the rule. I imagine most people think that. My mom refuses to acknowledge that new law school grads are struggling to get jobs and pay off their debt. She tells me "oh he'll be fine, that's all overblown".
I got into Fordham law and was talked out of actually attending by my cousin who recently graduated from Moritz College of Law at Ohio State. I'm now working on my MBA. Considering I'll leave school with no where near the level of debt and what looks like better job prospects I'm happy with the decision. Plus my current employer is footing part of the bill.
I tried like hell to get him to choose another profession but he was committed. He is lucky enough to have secured a job. I have no idea what his pay will be.
I am astounded at the lack of reasoning skills by some students. 6 were expelled for academic reasons, and they are ALL appealing. None of them have what I would call extraordinary circumstances (serious medical issues, death in the family, etc). They all feel like they are owed yet another chance. At 40K per year tuition. Which they are mostly borrowing. When I tell them that the statistics show their chance of passing the bar with less than a 2.5 GPA is about 15%, they say "but I know I can do it." Apparently, the F in Civil Procedure wasn't convincing. When I question why they want to be a lawyer, it's always something like "I have always wanted to be a lawyer/I want to help people/I was a poli sci major." None of these students should be lawyers. They really have no clue what lawyers do. They might make it through, but they will probably never pass the bar.
And sadly, another 220 have deposited for this fall. I am very scared for these students, as I have seen the stats on their LSAT/GPA's. I seriously question the wisdom/ethics of taking money from some of them. But, I, too, have to pay my student loans back, so I can't quit in protest. Besides, it would do no good. So I will do my best to help those that can be helped, and pray for the rest.
I can remember being a complete dick about this subject a few years ago and being (appropriately) castigated by CE for my behavioer. At the time I was struck by his authenticity in his explanation for why he wanted to be a lawyer.
Find the CE's of the world. That will keep you happy.
going to law school when the employment situation is so bleak. Just from reading this board, I am well aware of the difficulties facing those in the legal profession. But your first sentence answered the question. Apparently, they lack reasoning skills which doesn't bode well for their future success in the profession.
Lehman and AIG shut their doors? What should we have done, walk out of class into a collapsing job market? I agree about those students that matriculated 2010 and on. But for the classes of 2009, 2010, 2011, and to an extent 2012, we had no idea what was coming and by the time we figured it out, we were too far along to do anything about it. Oh, we also paid the highest tuition rates and have the highest student loan debt. But you're right, life is peachy. I spent 3 extra years in school, assumed $125k of debt, and now make what a 22 year old management major makes.
After all, if the schools were really doing their jobs that well, the students would be able to present a winning argument.
of extra school and another 150K in debt. Although, these days, that 150K in debt for the majority of law students is only getting them a 50K per year job. Law school is no longer the quick way to be upwardly mobile that it was just 10 years ago. Now, unless you are going to a top school, have a full ride, or mommy and daddy are paying, going to law school is not a smart move.
Sadly, many are still buying that dream.
*you don't have to feel sorry for them, but it is still a kick in the ass, and all that student loan debt floating around out there without the salaries to support it are going to come back to bite all of us in one way or another.
is to a woe-is-me story, but to an interesting analysis of the problems facing the legal field.
I did think SavageDragon's post was a boorish minimization of the real problems that I and many people I care about have gone through, one that might have been appropriate as a response to an actual woe-is-me rant, as can be easily found on AbovetheLaw or the like...but that wasn't actually present here.
I've been preaching this gospel for several years now -- that the focus on PPP had ruined large law firms.
and one major reason I advocate being self employed as opposed to relying on some big company for a job.
And many of whom entered law school and took on that debt during a time when a law firm layoff was unheard of, i.e. you were pretty much assured that you'd be able to put in 4-5 years in big law to pay down your debt.
Anyone who entered law school after 2008 should have done so with their eyes wide open. But there were plenty of law students before that time who took on a lot of debt with the realistic and well-founded expectation that they'd be able to land and keep a job that would allow them to pay it off.
Surely young lawyers at big firms aren't the most sympathetic figures in the economic meltdown, but there were plenty of decent people who got hid hard over the last 5 years, and I don't think the fact that they at one point in time commanded a large salary should make them objects of scorn.