Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So You Want To Be Lawyer

With a nod at The Byrds and a truly obscure allusion, I suggest reading Ogden on Politics' Mandatory Reading Before Going to Law School:

On September 24, 2007, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled "Hard Case: Job Market Wanes for U.S. Lawyers" written by Amir Efrati. In the article, Efrati brilliantly exposed the truth regarding attorney salaries and employment prospects. It should be mandatory reading before anyone goes to law school. Here are a couple excerpts:
'According to the Internal Revenue Service, the inflation-adjusted average income of sole practitioners has been flat since the mid-1980s. A recent survey showed that out of nearly 600 lawyers at firms of 10 lawyers or fewer in Indiana, wages for the majority only kept pace with inflation or dropped in real terms over the past five years.'..."
Which brought to mind Do clients really care what it costs you to produce your service? from the Legal Ease Blog:
David Giacalone at f/k/a penned (can we still say 'penned' even though it's electronic?) a post entitled, "smart clients care about bonuses and marketplace 'value.'" My comments to the post were extensive, so I won't reiterate them here, but I hope you'll read them at f/k/a. Suffice it to say that my comments focused on whether clients really care about your costs (i.e. what salaries or bonuses you pay to staff or how many hours you expend working on their matter), or whether those things become client concerns only when and if the client perceives them to be directly tied to the fee the client pays for your service.
f/k/a's lawyer entitlement and the price of legal services presents an image of lawyers as being still fairly well off. I say that general thesis may apply elsewhere geographically and to larger firms (although with our economic balck hole growing, that may no longer be true). I still would suggest reading the whole post - it is a long one, too - for lawyers and would-be lawyers, and for non-lawyers who want to be more knowledgeable consumers of legal services. I think for me, for those who I perceive as subscribing to this blog, and Indiana in general, this paragraph strikes home hard:
As I pointed out in May 2003, our courts are being flooded with the unrepresented, studies show that 80% or more of the legal needs of the poor and working poor currently are unmet in the United States, and over 150 million citizens are legally disenfranchised from our expensive, inaccessible court system. Information technology, combined with personnel who have far less training than lawyers, can go a long way to solving these problems. It would give those who currently cannot afford legal services, as well as those who choose to represent themselves or take a major role in the process, meaningful affordable access to justice. Yes, that will mean fewer jobs and less income for many lawyers. But, that is what we should expect as the benefits of the information age, and notions of democratization of our judicial system, are spread to consumers of legal services.
Add that to the information from Ogden on Politics and it should chill some bones.

On the other hand, (non)billable hour blog has Ten Rules for New Solos
1. The good news: As a solo, you are your own boss, can do whatever you want and answer only to yourself. That’s also the bad news.
Not that Matthew Homann does not apply some cold water:
2. Your solo practice is far more likely to fail because you’re a bad business person than because you’re a bad lawyer.
These rules also apply to old solos, too.

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