Chinn: On the Bus

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

iba-chinn-scottI knew from the time I was 10 years old that I wanted to be a lawyer. I remember being on the school bus one day and a tumbler clicking in place in my head to that effect as I watched the soybean field roll by from the window. I don’t recall there being a specific trigger for my decision – it was probably caused by the latent effects of watching endless Perry Mason reruns and my parents’ sincerely held belief that fairness is the most important civic virtue and one desperately desired by those without means or power. Lawyers were able to deliver that fairness.

Having made up my mind, I never questioned that I would actually become a lawyer. I assumed – and probably correctly for the times in which my opinions were formed – that it was up to me. If I worked hard and was smart enough, the rest of the tumblers would fall into place, unlocking my opportunity and a bright future doing what I wanted to do. Beyond my ability to know or understand at that time, macroeconomic forces likely encouraged (or at least made probable) my matriculation through the professional prerequisites.

You know the punch line. The macroeconomic forces have changed. Most graduating law students are not getting the law jobs they went to law school for or are not getting law jobs at all. Probably because of the economic downtown of the past several years, forces of globalization, and market pressures that are altering the actual and perceived need for lawyers by clients, the demand for lawyers is down in the United States. As a consequence, law school applications are down sharply over the past two years. The latter point is probably a reasonable and natural response to former point. But as the pipeline of lawyer capacity shrinks under the weight of those market forces, we’re left with an overcapacity of law school graduates now – those recent graduates that can’t find jobs as well as longer practicing lawyers displaced by the economic downturn.

You probably already knew all this. The question is what, if anything, we are going to do to help. We members of the professions, we members of the Indianapolis Bar Association, we lawyers. I suppose there is a choice. One possibility is laissez faire observance of the problem of unemployed and underemployed lawyers as an unfortunate matter that will correct itself in time. Another is action to assist unemployed and underemployed lawyers in getting a leg up on their current circumstances by spending time and resources finding and creating opportunities for them to perform meaningful legal work – work that will permit their careers to grow, even if more slowly than they had originally hoped.

You can probably guess my suggested choice. I say, let’s get everybody on the bus and work to letting them off at better stops. The IndyBar already offers resources that can assist unemployed and underemployed lawyers. Here are five – all described on the IndyBar’s website –

Use the IndyBar’s Free Document Library – forms available for contracts, criminal law, family law, proceedings supplemental, real estate, wills and estates and even specific court forms.

Visit the IndyBar Job Bank – post your resume, review available positions posted by employers, and consult the PDF entitled “Lawyers In Transition” which was put together by the IBA Standing Committee on Professionalism.

Take advantage of IndyBar Networking Opportunities – monthly lunches, Bench Bar, section meetings, IBF Trivia Night, and more.

Attend very low-cost Continuing Legal Education to stay up on the profession and meet new lawyer contacts.

Sign up for the IndyBar Lawyer Referral Service – an economical way to attract more clients to your practice.

We also realize that challenging times require innovative measures, and the IndyBar intends to do more. Recently, the IndyBar Executive Committee commissioned a task force to come up with additional resources and programs for unemployed and underemployed lawyers in our community. It has begun its work and soon will be in position to report its findings and recommendations to the IndyBar Board for implementation. So, please stay tuned on this issue.

Let’s be candid, this is a huge elephant that we have to eat one bite at a time. But every interaction and offer of assistance, no matter how seemingly small, probably makes a difference in the long run. As I have done before, let me again encourage those of you in position to do so to reach out to those who need your assistance, your advice, and your counsel.

We’re on this bus together.•


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues