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Author Topic: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??  (Read 5157 times)

jonlevy

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Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2011, 10:09:18 AM »

So by your definition, all those attorneys, who graduted near the top of their class, in the top 14 law schools in the country, working in biglaw, representing large clients, aren't good attorneys?  You do know that most large firms have pro-bono requirements too, so do they become "good" attorneys only while doing pro bono work?  Hate to break it to you, a large poriton of those "Good attorneys [who] work for people" are pretty average at what they do, if not much worse.  Biglaw has a way of weeding out the deadbeats.  While there are many attorneys doing what they feel is for the betterment of society than just looking for a big paycheck, there are many more who just can't cut it at a big firm, and are taking whatever they can get.

There is no apriori proof big law firms do anything better than any other forms of practice other than charging  big fees. In fact, some of the most spectacular fails have come out of big firms becuase of their size and ability to create big rather than small mischief. They are just big and politically powerful and rarely get sanctioned and disciplined for that reason. As for not "cutting it" at a big firm, anyone with any common sense would flee any job that requires one to work more hours than they humanly want to and induces highter than average rates of sleep deprivation, stress, and substance and alcohol abuse. Having said that, they do practice law well or they go out of business just like anyone else.

Reading for the bar is what online and correspondence law school is all about just without the sponsoring attorney and with a shorter time period involved. The statistical rates I think though are meaninless because the sample would be so small and self selecting. Anyone who opts for distance learning law in the US better be hard core and a gambler as the odds are at least 10-1 against in California. In fact I suspect many wash out even before they hit the FYLE. As I said before, the only reason for opting for distance learning would be geographic as the time involved to be successful will be the more not less than traditional school. The only exception I contend is that someone with excellent mnemonic skills can pass the California bar by simply memorizing all the outlines, Blacks law dictionary, nutshells, past bar questions and Flemings or something similar. Of course once they get their law license, they will need to learn how to practice law by hanging out with attorneys and attending court everyday for a few months.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2011, 10:35:43 AM »
As for not "cutting it" at a big firm, anyone with any common sense would flee any job that requires one to work more hours than they humanly want to and induces highter than average rates of sleep deprivation, stress, and substance and alcohol abuse.

I don't think he's talking about the biglaw refugees.  It's common for folks to punch their ticket in biglaw, then go for more reasonable hours in a corporate or government setting.  I imagine quite a few also hang out a shingle and establish successful practices.

What he's talking about, and what I think most people agree with him on, is that the biglaw hiring process screens out a lot of bad and quite a few pretty good attorneys in the search for great ones. 

If I had to hire an attorney, I know who I'd hire if it came down to a guy who graduated top of their class at a competitive school, versus somebody who graduated mid-pack at a 4T.  Not to say that this will always mean that I'll be selecting the better attorney.  Just that most of the time (meaning, pretty much nearly all the time), going with the one who was a badass in school is probably going to be a good indication of who is a badass after school.

The only exception I contend is that someone with excellent mnemonic skills can pass the California bar by simply memorizing all the outlines, Blacks law dictionary, nutshells, past bar questions and Flemings or something similar. Of course once they get their law license, they will need to learn how to practice law by hanging out with attorneys and attending court everyday for a few months.

That's the main drawback to not-having an education requirement.  If you could become an attorney by doing this, I probably could have been an attorney straight out of High School.  It's not like I'm the only one, either.  There's a lot of folks who are pretty good at taking tests.  I don't think that indicates that they're ready to practice law.

I do have a problem with any system that only admits you to the bar after you've "studied under" somebody, such as what we have in the UK.  That just smacks of insulating the industry to only those few people who are connected.  That may jibe well with UK society, but not so much, here.

Opie58

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Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2011, 12:47:59 PM »
Figured this article would generate some interesting, and heated, debate; thanks for not letting me down.

I still fail to see the correlation with how much a lawyer charges determines if the lawyer is good or bad?  If a lawyer “wins,” he’s considered good; if he “loses,” he’s bad – right?  So, what does pay have to do with it?

Good vs. Bad Attorneys – isn’t it all relative to the beholder?  Good vs. bad has to do with personal character, doesn’t it?  Cost is determined by what the market is willing to bear.  If a lawyer wants to offer assistance to the lower class, who are most deprived of legal assistance due to unreasonable fees, and is able to operate his firm at a lower fee, does that make him/her a “bad” lawyer?  Boeing and Microsoft, I’m sure, pay high rates for their attorneys, but have lost some significant cases – so, are their lawyers “good” because they cost more even if they lost?

If a lawyer graduates from a “low” end school, but is able to research, represent, and win for his client, how does that make him a bad lawyer?  Personally, I still don’t see how what school you go to makes any someone better than another if they are able to apply the necessary skills for competent representation.  I do concede that law firms need something to evaluate a new grads potential, but that still is no guarantee.

Zepp

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Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2011, 01:03:49 PM »

There is no apriori proof big law firms do anything better than any other forms of practice other than charging  big fees. In fact, some of the most spectacular fails have come out of big firms becuase of their size and ability to create big rather than small mischief. They are just big and politically powerful and rarely get sanctioned and disciplined for that reason.

You can try to weasel out of it anyway you like, but simple logic will lead any sane person to the conclusion that the odds are much better of finding the star attorneys at a large firm, than a two man operation operating out of a shopping mall.  Top firms are made up of partners how have been able to produce results.  They started as associates in these top firms.  They were recruited by these firms because they were the top of their class at the best law schools.  They got into the top law school because they had great LSAT scores and high GPAs from good universities.  Do I think a pool that consists of people who have been academic over-achievers their entire lives, being mentoured professional by similar over-achievers who have proven themselves successful in the practice of law is more likely than not to have the best attorneys?  You bet your backside.  Do you honestly think people pay large firms their fees without conderation the the results they can achieve?  Do spectular fails come from BigLaw.  Of course.  Sometimes big mistakes go hand in hand with big stakes.  Do we hear about  them?  Of course, because it's big news (and yes, they too get sanctioned).  Do we ever hear about the working class guy that picks a lousy lawyer out of the yellow pages with a big ad?  Probably not.  Just how many average Joes have their cases messed up by incompetent lawyers?  Who knows. 

As for Courts' reluctance to sanction...I don't know of a single court that is quick to pull the sanction trigger.  Just look at distance learning poster child Orly Taitz.  She's been chasing President Obama around for the past 3 years with the most rediculous junk law theories and frivolous law suits, can't follow the most simple of rules of procedure, and seems to have forgotten even the most basic principals of laws, and yet has only been sanctioned once.  Go figure.


As for not "cutting it" at a big firm, anyone with any common sense would flee any job that requires one to work more hours than they humanly want to and induces highter than average rates of sleep deprivation, stress, and substance and alcohol abuse. Having said that, they do practice law well or they go out of business just like anyone else.

Common sense also lead a person to take the best paying job to pay down $150-$250k in school debt, and suck it up for a few years.  That, and many people in big law thrive on the high pressure environment.  It's that alpha personality thing that drove them to succeed throughout their academic careers, and go after the biggest challenges.


Reading for the bar is what online and correspondence law school is all about just without the sponsoring attorney and with a shorter time period involved. The statistical rates I think though are meaninless because the sample would be so small and self selecting. Anyone who opts for distance learning law in the US better be hard core and a gambler as the odds are at least 10-1 against in California. In fact I suspect many wash out even before they hit the FYLE. As I said before, the only reason for opting for distance learning would be geographic as the time involved to be successful will be the more not less than traditional school. The only exception I contend is that someone with excellent mnemonic skills can pass the California bar by simply memorizing all the outlines, Blacks law dictionary, nutshells, past bar questions and Flemings or something similar. Of course once they get their law license, they will need to learn how to practice law by hanging out with attorneys and attending court everyday for a few months.

My two cents is anything worth doing, is worth doing right.  The bar passage rates are already pretty low in brick and mortar non-ABA accredited schools.  That has to be a reflection of either the school and quality of education, the quality of the students, or both.  In any academic enviroment, a good deal of what you learn you learn from your fellow students and the discussions they drive.  The higher the quality of students, the higher the quality of education.  Once you get past the bar, you learn from experience.  The better the quality the mentor, the better the eventual attorney.  If someone is relying on leaning to be an attorney by "hanging out" and "attending court" I feel sorry for the first clients this freshly minted attorney will take on.
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GovLaw

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Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2011, 01:56:48 PM »
Zepp – I agree with most of your comments, but would like to interject that some of the best attorneys I have ever had the pleasure of associating with were not with “big law”.  There are people out there – attorneys and others – who value a principle more than they do financial gain.  Many of the attorneys who work in public interest law could do well in a large firm, but have decide to pursue employment based upon their values.  Some of them struggle to meet their law school debt, and some of them do eventually move into more profitable areas.  However there are excellent attorneys who will never make what is considered a good income, but who are happy in doing what they do and feel they are contributing to society. 

Zepp

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Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2011, 01:58:37 PM »
I still fail to see the correlation with how much a lawyer charges determines if the lawyer is good or bad?  If a lawyer “wins,” he’s considered good; if he “loses,” he’s bad – right?  So, what does pay have to do with it?

Lawyers that win frequetly generally have the luxery of charing a higher rate.  Like you later say, it comes down to the market.


Good vs. Bad Attorneys – isn’t it all relative to the beholder?  Good vs. bad has to do with personal character, doesn’t it?  Cost is determined by what the market is willing to bear.  If a lawyer wants to offer assistance to the lower class, who are most deprived of legal assistance due to unreasonable fees, and is able to operate his firm at a lower fee, does that make him/her a “bad” lawyer?  Boeing and Microsoft, I’m sure, pay high rates for their attorneys, but have lost some significant cases – so, are their lawyers “good” because they cost more even if they lost?

I agree with your first statement.  The "good" lawyer is the one that wins, or negotiate the best possible outcome for his client under their circumstances, and does everything in his power to ethically represent his client.  I'm less conerned about the white hat/black hat b.s.

If a lawyer graduates from a “low” end school, but is able to research, represent, and win for his client, how does that make him a bad lawyer?  Personally, I still don’t see how what school you go to makes any someone better than another if they are able to apply the necessary skills for competent representation.  I do concede that law firms need something to evaluate a new grads potential, but that still is no guarantee.

I agree.  Good attorneys come from all sorts of different schools.  However, I would venture to guess that a larger percenage of Harvard grads are "good" attorneys than Cooley grads.  People that get admitted to the best law schools do so based on an already established pattern of academic success.  So you have a classroom filed with academic overachievers.  It doesn't take much to come to the realization that the level of discourse will be much higher at the better schools, as you have a room full of generally intelligent people, that are accustomed to performing at a high academic level.  Again, this is not a guarentee of a "good" or even "better" lawyer.  But if you had to place bets as to which is more likely to be the "good" lawyer, why wouldn't you pick a grad from an elite school?
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Zepp

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Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2011, 01:59:47 PM »
Zepp – I agree with most of your comments, but would like to interject that some of the best attorneys I have ever had the pleasure of associating with were not with “big law”.  There are people out there – attorneys and others – who value a principle more than they do financial gain.  Many of the attorneys who work in public interest law could do well in a large firm, but have decide to pursue employment based upon their values.  Some of them struggle to meet their law school debt, and some of them do eventually move into more profitable areas.  However there are excellent attorneys who will never make what is considered a good income, but who are happy in doing what they do and feel they are contributing to society.

I agree 100%. 
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jonlevy

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Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2011, 02:22:14 PM »
Seeing as how this is a distance learning forum, one thing for sure, if you have a DL JD, you will never work for a big law firm.

Secondly, Orly is a fellow Taft graduate and my former client so I know something about it. Since her practice of law is on a single issue, one cannot draw any conclusions from it that would apply to anyone else. I might add her "success" is in generating interest in a topic (I won't digress here) that has attracted attention from a variety of public figures like Donald Trump. Success does not always mean winning a case, the lawyers that began the tobacco litigation never saw a penny for their efforts and lost repeatedly yet they laid the groundwork for one of the biggest cases ever. Were they unsuccessful, not from a public policy standpoint. Law firms are about profits by their very nature, the practice of law however has other measures than money, LSAT scores, and grades.

I would think anyone who goes down the DL road, is not in it primarily for the money because they will be  disappointed.

jonlevy

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Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2011, 02:35:26 PM »
It is a myth that big law is any better than anyone else. I have gone up against big law firms , Hinshaw Culberton ranked no. 85 in size, took them over ten years in federal court to get my clients' case dismissed on jurisidictional grounds, not on the merits. The case has since been refiled elsewhere. You would think they could have done better than that against a DL attorney? Of course they eventually won and made a pile of cash from their client, so maybe I'm the stupid one?

Point is that comparing big law attorneys to DL grad lawyers is apples and pineapples, there is just no correlation at all.

GovLaw

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Re: Correlation Between High Tuition Costs & Affordable Legal Assistance??
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2011, 03:35:36 PM »
The B&M attorney has more opportunities and many advantages not available to the DL attorney, I doubt anyone would argue that point.  I have never seen a DL attorney in court - I'd imagine they are pretty rare around here.  However, I'd be willing to wager that you can get very good or very bad attorneys from both the B&M source or from  the DL enviroment.