Thursday, April 2, 2009

Icebergs Ahead

Our Changing Profession Anybody have a chance to read Adam Cohen's NY Times editorial on what's happening to the legal profession. Look for more big firm layoffs and closings including Heller Ehrmanm who closed the doors to their 500 plus firm after 119 years of existence. It seems that the days of $160,000 starting salaries for associates will be put on the wayside to be replaced with reduced pay for partners and associates to save jobs. As Cohen notes, new associates often earn more than the judges they work for. The chasm between prosecutor, public defender, and associate salaries is mind numbing. Have you seen the caseload some of these PDs have? Look for a bump down in salaries, more layoffs, cats marrying dogs, down pours of frogs and locusts, Ann Coulter marrying Michael Moore... So what's the updside? Well, clients are likely to save some dough. If you haven't heard, corporate clients are tightening their belts. We have already seen a trend of firms moving away from the billable hour. Smaller firms this is your chance to pick up some new business. Students may also benefit. Cohen suggests that law schools may begin to keep tuition in check. Schools like Northwestern are offering two year programs rather than the standard three or four years some take to finish law school (or in the case of a buddy of The Carnegie Foundation wants to see law schools become more serious about curriculum reform. Pace Law School approached this topic several years ago. You may see more focus on practical skills rather than classes on the socio economic forces placed on 16th century Peruvian goat herders and the resulting legal ramifications. Many schools now offer crossover classes. At the aforementioned Pace Law, you can get a MBA along with your JD. Of course, contrary to popular opinion, a world without lawyers is a little less sunny. Like any other crisis, we too will weather this storm. I am grateful, however, that I decided to go into private practice.

No comments: