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Author Topic: Hard-hitting indictment of the law profession in the United States  (Read 1116 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: June 29, 2013, 03:06:09 PM »

In The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis (Basic Books, 272 pages), former corporate litigation lawyer and now law professor Steven J. Harper makes a devastating indictment of the greed, shortsightedness, and dishonesty that he says now permeate the legal profession in the United States. He argues that the once-noble profession arrived at this crisis because of its widespread fixation on rankings, the bottomless greed of equity partners, and the abdication of responsibility by law-industry leaders.

Harper focuses on one very serious aspect of the lawyer bubble in America—the current oversupply of law students against the available legal career openings despite high law-school tuitions. This results in some 45,000 law students graduating each year after incurring an average of over $100,000 in debt, but with only half of them able to find jobs requiring a legal degree. Harper lays the blame for this state of affairs on the American Bar Association for its shortsightedness, the aggressive promotional efforts of law school deans, and unreliable law-school rankings published by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review.

Turning on the practice of law itself, Harper observes with dismay that American law firms, which used to prize professionalism and collegiality, are now increasingly operating like typical bean-counting businesses. Thus, he says, even graduates who get the few law jobs available are finding work only as “contract attorneys,” which often means doing document-review drudgery for low pay.

Given this situation, Harper is pushing reality therapy for prospective law students to make them seriously assess whether they really want to go into the legal career. He says in an interview: “I’d ask them the questions that I ask the students in my class: What do you think being a lawyer means? What is your expectation for the profession? Then you start the harder process of assessing what you know about the law school process, the expense of law school, and whether your own personality is a fit for the kind of law you think you’re interested in. It’s a dual-track process in which prospective students explore their own personalities and preferences.”

Read Barry A. Sanders’s “A Transformed Legal Profession Faces the Future,” a review of Steven Harper’s The Lawyer Bubble, in the LA Review of Books now!

Read the interview with Steven Harper by David Lat on The Lawyer Bubble in the website now!

Steven J. Harper is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Law School and Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences. He is a regular contributor to the American Lawyer and the author of three previous books, including Crossing Hoffa: A Teamster’s Story and The Partnership: A Novel. After a 30-year career as a litigator, he recently retired from Kirkland & Ellis LLP—the firm he joined immediately upon graduation from Harvard Law School. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been listed in numerous compilations of the best lawyers in America.

In “Why It’s Good To Be Wrong,” an essay that came out in Issue 002 of the Nautilus Issues Blog, internationally acclaimed scientist David Deutsch argues that nothing obstructs access to the truth like a belief in absolute truthfulness. Human beings can be mistaken in anything they think or do, a proposition that he says is known as fallibilism. “But the type of fallibility that I want to discuss,” he proceeds, “arises from the way in which our ideas about reality connect with reality itself—how, in other words, we can create knowledge, and how we can fail to.”

Read David Deutsch’s “Why It’s Good To Be Wrong” in the Nautilus Issues Blog now!
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