More law schools, fewer jobs

June 18, 2008
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According to a recent news story, there are now 200 ABA-accredited law schools in the United States, with some states looking to add even more schools. Indiana currently has four, and just a few years ago, two Indiana colleges were looking into opening up their own law schools. Those have fallen to the wayside at least for now, but one businessman with more than a decade of experience in higher education but not an attorney himself is still pursuing his goal of opening up the Abraham Clark School of Law (http://abrahamclarklaw.com/) in Indianapolis with a goal of reaching working adults who are looking to go back to school.

Last year, a record 150,000 students enrolled in law schools nationwide. Law school has historically been seen as an automatic, successful career; a well-respected option if you are unsure of what you want to do after college. It makes sense that the demand for a law degree is at an all time-high because right now, the economy is struggling. When the economy is down, many people choose to go back to school. Yet as the story points out, more people in the job pool means more competition for the same legal jobs. In fact, with a slowing economy, those new grads may find themselves with few or no job prospects as firms, courts, and government offices cut back hiring to curb costs.

Colleges and universities are trying to start new, ABA-accredited law schools to meet this high demand, but are they doing a disservice to their students by admitting them, teaching them, and then sending them out into the world with a mountain of debt and bleaker employment prospects than in years past? Or more importantly, does Indiana or the United States need more attorneys? If you look at the public defender’s offices or legal aid offices in most counties, you’d say yes, we need more lawyers to help keep up with the demand for these services. However, many attorneys want to work at higher paying jobs at law firms in order to pay off their school debts. Perhaps if law school debt wasn’t approaching $100,000 or more for some students, more people would look to lower-paying jobs where there may be more of a need for lawyers as opposed to working for large law firms where there may be fewer job opportunities.
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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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