Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Poll

What do you think?

Yes
 17 (70.8%)
No
 7 (29.2%)

Total Members Voted: 24

Author Topic: Are lawyers/future lawyers more insecure than people in other professions?  (Read 2179 times)

bl825

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I have to wonder, because it seems like everything has to be a competition.  Who cares if we're smarter than doctors or engineers?  ::)
Oh yea...you're delicious and lean, but unsustainable and not to be consumed daily.

TimMitchell

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I'd like to cite http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/ to supplement my Yes vote

NYCFed

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It's probably all the lawyer jokes.  :P

SwampFox

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I'd argue that
1) lawyers really aren't smarter than doctors or engineers, but
2) lawyers have one advantage over both:  they (mostly) make the rules.  Legislatures are full of lawyers, and they'll never let the legal profession to open up to a real level of competition, especially from people overseas.  Requiring every would-be lawyer to attend three years of arduous extra schooling at a highly-selective institution, with a hard, localized test serves a very useful economic purpose:  it restricts competition.  (If you're skeptical, consider that we're now seeing the birth of Government Motors, all to save some politically-connected autoworkers, but I digress.)
Since 2001, thousands of software and electrical engineering jobs have been created offshore, in places like India and the Phillipines.  Presumably, those jobs would have been created here or elsewhere in the developed (or more-developed) world.  The profession has never recovered from the dot-com days.

bl825

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Legislatures are full of lawyers, and they'll never let the legal profession to open up to a real level of competition, especially from people overseas. 

Problem with this: you assume that the interests of all domestic lawyers are aligned.
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SwampFox

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For the sake of this argument, I would say that the economics interest of all, or almost all, practicing lawyers in a given locale converge to prevent competition.  All lawyers (or, more precisely, the firms they work for) have a vested interest in making sure as few new competitors come into the market as possible.  It may not be possible to eliminate competitors through laws, but it sure is easy to make sure new ones don't enter.  There doesn't have to be any collusion.  This isn't unique to the legal profession at all.  For example, some states license barbers and hairstylists, while others do not.  According to my old econ textbook, there is no discernible difference between customer satisfaction in places that license them and places that don't.  What does differ, though, is the price; it's much higher in places where a license is required.
I don't really wish to start a debate as to whether the legal world would be better off if lawyers weren't licensed, but any kind of legal licensing or certification scheme serves as a barrier to entry, and thus limits competition.  I really can't see legal advice getting outsourced to India in the same way as say, tech support.  Given how many hurdles the legal profession already has, and how easy it would be to add new ones, I think lawyers are certainly better insulated from the laws of competition than almost any other profession.

bl825

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All lawyers (or, more precisely, the firms they work for) have a vested interest in making sure as few new competitors come into the market as possible.

I disagree, because new lawyers entering with a market will only compete with some existing lawyers but not others.  New law school graduates, for example, will be competing with associates, but not necessarily with partners.
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Talk Is Cheap

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I'd say we're all insecure because

1. We know we're not actually smarter than anyone with technical aptitude. If we were, we wouldn't have gone to law school.

2. Law school sort of suggests to you that failure in life is always one negligent step around the corner.   ;)

SwampFox

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All lawyers (or, more precisely, the firms they work for) have a vested interest in making sure as few new competitors come into the market as possible.

I disagree, because new lawyers entering with a market will only compete with some existing lawyers but not others.  New law school graduates, for example, will be competing with associates, but not necessarily with partners.

I apologize; I must be doing a poor job explaining myself.  Yes, the profession has to admit SOME new lawyers every year, if for no other reason so that the system wouldn't wither away.  However, lawyers do a darn fine job of making sure the total number of people, and thus firms, in practice is as small as possible.  Consider what would happen, for example, if you could sit for the bar after only a year of law school, and that the ABA wasn't the only accrediting agency?  Plenty of smart people who don't have the time or money for three years of law school could suddenly flood the market, simply by boning up on the law.  (If memory serves, that's how people became lawyers before there were law schools).  What would be the result?  Most of those nice $150,000+ starting salaries would vanish, simply because of the laws of supply and demand.  There are oodles of people who could be lawyers, but don't have either the time or the inclination to jump through all the hoops currently required.
Consider another possibility:  what if you could outsource legal advice, so that people were free to call up an 800 number for legal work, and the work could be done way out of local jurisdiction?
In many types of engineering, the only real certification required is a four-year degree, and there are many accrediting agencies available.  Pretty much any reputable college that wants to can offer classes in engineering.  Furthermore, there's nothing preventing someone from hiring engineers in another state, or even another country.  In the legal profession, that's just unheard of.
The ABA and the state bar associations do a great job of keeping out as much competition as possible, both in limiting who can practice and in restricting just who can take the bar.

bl825

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Most of those nice $150,000+ starting salaries would vanish, simply because of the laws of supply and demand.

This is simply not true.  There's a huge supply of new lawyers each year, but they haven't done anything to drive down the starting salary at the big firms.  Lawyers are simply not fungible in all instances.

And I bet there are tons of partners at big firms who would love to replace some of their associates with outsourced labor from India.  More profit for them.
Oh yea...you're delicious and lean, but unsustainable and not to be consumed daily.