Are Lawyers Destined to Either be Miserable or Broke?

What I'm ReadingI was talking to the inimitable J. Kim Wright of Cutting Edge Law the other day when she pointed out a funny juxtaposition between two articles I’d seen but not thought about together:

So is this really what it comes to?

Are lawyers destined to either be miserable (see #1) or broke (see #2)? Or, perhaps, miserable and broke?

What a depressing state of affairs! People, we’re all too smart for this.

Law Needs a New Vision

I’m not claiming I’ve got the answer (I don’t), but I think we — collectively, as a profession — have to start taking seriously this question of what’s next.

Clearly the current approach isn’t working.

There aren’t enough jobs to go around, far too many practicing attorneys who have jobs hate them, and there’s an enormous pool of people and business who need legal assistance and can’t get it. (Criminal, civil, commercial, family — you name it. I can’t even afford to hire a lawyer, and I am one.)

The current system is broken. There’s pretty good agreement on that point.

But what’s next? What are we moving toward? What do we actually want to create?

I have my own ideas, but what do you think? Seriously, I want to know!

Leave your thoughts below.

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You’ll find an amazing, inspiring group of forward-thinking lawyers, entrepreneurs, and others coming together to talk about just this issue.

I’d love to see you there.

Catapult 2013

And let me know what you think! What’s your vision?


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  1. Touching the zeitgeist! Go watch this video: Rethink Law. Now!

  2. A. Nony Mouse says

    I think that one of the problems with the law is that most people who go in to the profession really have no idea what it is like to be a lawyer day-in and day-out. For many, it is a constant grind through document review, discovery battles, and endless motion writing. This can be interesting and exciting for a while, but gets boring and repetitive later. And, a lot depends on where and for whom one works. I hear from friends in Big Law that it is generally awful. I knew of another person who worked at a law firm foreclosing on people’s homes during the recent economic bust, and she would go home each night and cry because she felt so horrible about what she did each day. (Thankfully, she found a new job.) I know of another person who was in-house and was expected to work 60+ hours each week and then 80+ hours each week when a regulatory problem hit her company. She asked the company to hire an assistant to help her get through that problem, and the company said no. She quit.

    And don’t even get me started on stories of some of opposing counsel pieces of sh#t I’ve had to deal with myself.

    I guess, this is a long-winded way of saying that maybe there should be an apprenticeship required for a few months before anyone can be admitted to law school. It would probably keep those whose personalities are most ill-suited for modern lawyer work from making a mistake and going to law school.

    It seems like lawyers are expected to give up their own personalities and lives (souls?) for their employers and clients. This is ridiculous. I guess this can happen in many jobs. (I hear lots of doctors hate their jobs, too.) I know lots of people working for large corporations hate those jobs.

    Honestly, if I could just be able to actually HELP people, instead of fighting about bullsh#t all day that my stupid bosses feel is important, then maybe I would like being a lawyer.

  3. What’s the biggest problem in the legal industry today. The lack of business education required of law students and new lawyers entering the practice. Complaining that there are a lack of jobs when there is clearly an access to justice gap, or in other words a greatly under served market, is one of example of this failure. Thinking you can charge $100 an hour when you are serving a consumer market where the vast majority don’t come close to the same salary, is another demonstration of business failure. Consumers would rather attempt to do it themselves and risk failure because you are charging too much. When the Bar Associations require attorneys to run their own practices, or businesses, they should also require the attorneys to understand how to run a business. I think much of the problems being expressed right now would dissipate if prospective attorneys received more business training.


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