f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

August 19, 2003

Earth to Law Schools: Enough Is Enough

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:01 am

Less than a day after The Boston Globe described the frustration and angst that is rampant among members of the legal profession [as reported yesterday in our posting, 8/18/03], the Law.Com Newswire reports thatThe nation’s law schools are getting crowded.  Admissions jumped 9 percent for this year’s class, while applications climbed 17 percent, according to data from the Law School Admissions Council cited by the Providence Business News.” (PBN.com, “Local Law Schools face record application levels,” by David Ortiz, August 19, 2003) [How Appealing also points to a similar article this morning in the Orlando Sentinel headlined “Law School’s Hot,” 8/19/03)  e (Aug. 19, 2003) in the Orlando Sentinel, saying that “Law

Earthlings, Be Worried.   The PBN.com article speculates that 

The high attraction could likely be attributed to a bad economy, the recent spate of corporate scandals and a surging interest in the profession by a generation weaned on law-related TV shows.

Apparently, children of baby boomers (you remember Boomers, the idealistic ones who were going to make the world a better place and raise a new generation to carry the torch) are going to law school because:

  1. the economy is down — which, I guess, makes law school again the academic default choice, holding pattern, or Lotto Ticket;
  2. they prefer law over business school, because, in the words of Robert Ward, dean of Southern New England School of Law, that “one can run a business with a law degree, but you’re also a lawyer so you’re less likely to go to jail.”  And,
  3. they have a less negative view of lawyers and the profession than prior generations — due, in part, to having been “socialized on very legally oriented television shows, in a massive way, . . . ‘Law and Order,’ ‘The Practice,’ ‘Ally McBeal.’”

Is this good news for consumers of legal services?  Are these the fertile grounds from which legal ethics will be revitalized and the consumer will rise to be sovereign in the legal marketplace?   Some might argue that a greater glut of lawyers will increase the chances that competition will bring down fees and expand choices to consumers.   Historically, however, increasing the supply of lawyers has never seemed to bring Americans the benefits of greater competition.  

More likely, a guild that can’t limit the supply of its members will struggle to increase the demand for their services and to block nonmembers (nonlawyers) from the marketplace.  Expect further efforts, therefore, to stifle the Self-Help Law movement and to expand the definition of Unauthorized Practice of Law.  And, expect that ethicalEsq? and mental health practitioners will be busier than ever.

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