Articles Posted in BIGLAW

Law schools have failed their students and the public but college graduates continue to apply and attend without having the facts or information needed to make an informed decision.

I request that you read this post and, if appropriate, forward it to any college students considering going to law school as well as any of those, such as pre-law advisers, who advise such students.

This is a unique, almost chaotic, time in the legal profession.

When I read a the United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Committees on HIGHER EDUCATION Issues Related to Law School Cost and Access October 2009, I was not impressed. Those drafting the report seemed to simply accept the statements of law school officials that ABA accreditation has no affect on the cost of law school but the change to a more hands-on resource-intensive approach to legal education has affected cost. The law school officials also said that competition among schools for higher rankings reportedly have affected costs. Admitting that they strive for high ranking in this defective and highly criticized magazine’s attempt to compare law schools is hard to believe.

After I read the report I drafted this Memorandum which has been forwarded by my Congressman to the above committees.



After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1963, I worked for a large law firm, served in the US Army JAG and worked in an insurance company. After two years as an associate for a sole practitioner, I founded two small law firms representing individuals and community groups and became one of the first lawyers in the country to offer divorce mediation. Concerned about the issue of the unmet legal needs of the public, I served on the boards of legal services programs, created referral programs for the Massachusetts Bar Association and the National Lawyers Guild, started an association of legal clinics, and served as president of a family mediation association.

In 1983 I returned to Harvard Law School as its public interest adviser. On August 9, 1989, my position was eliminated by a recently appointed dean of that law school. I have reprinted below some material related to the elimination of that position.

I had the opportunity and the privilege yesterday to make a presentation entitled “Think Small: Learning About and Locating Positions in Small Law Firms” for the New York State Bar Association. About 30 who registered were “live” in the “studio” at the law office of Lauren Wachtler, the chair of the Committee on Lawyers in Transition. An additional 175 registered for the webcast



On Wednesday, September 16, 2009, from noon to 2pm (EDT), I will be doing a live webcast for the New York State Bar Association Committee on Lawyers in Transition entitled Think Small! Learning About and Locating Positions in Small Law Firms

“For many years, if not decades, there has been an intense focus on large law firms as if they represent the entire legal profession. The lack of openings within large law firms makes this a most appropriate time for lawyers and law students to realize that there are nearly unlimited options in small law firms. There are jobs; there are positions; there are openings!”

For more information and to register for this free program go to this NYSBA website..

Many of you are aware of LawShucks which has become well known for keeping track of the number of lawyers and staff laid off from BigLaw. Recently someone began to post his/her thoughts under the title of The Laid Off Diary

As I read the articles, I recognized that the diarist, although likely not having the background and experience of a career planner, had distilled in the various articles the essence and fundamentals of the approach I employ in helping lawyers make a transition from dissatisfaction or unemployment to, hopefully, a satisfying position.

I took excerpts from many of the posts in the diary and, with the approval of Law Shucks and its diarist, present them here. I think you will find what follows worth reading.

Journalists of the legal media could be a force in correcting decades of law school misplacement.

I just read the most recent of the plethora of articles focusing on placement offices and what they are doing for law students during this unique “challenging” “chill” inducing situation where more and more large law firms are withdrawing from on-campus interviewing and not hiring students for summer and permanent positions.

I quickly recognized thirteen issues NOT considered in this article (to a great extent applicable to another such article.)

For information on the genesis of these posts and on who “Debra” is, click here and read the intro to “Debra and Ron Post 1.

Ron: Would you counsel women law students toward or away from BigLaw?

Debra: In my opinion, as I said in Post 1, training, opportunity, career development and networking are far better in BigLaw, even with all its shortcomings. Women, like men, need it; it needs us.  Like every other business institution, law firms need and benefit from women among their leaders.

 For information on the genesis of these posts and on who “Debra” is, click here and read the intro to “Debra and Ron Post 1.

Ron: When I began to work as the public interest adviser at Harvard Law School in 1983, I knew that there were thousands of capable lawyers who represented those truly needing legal services, what we referred to as the underrepresented in society. Students had no way of knowing that this was the case. What I did was to create a new public interest category “private public interest law firms”, contacted hundreds of such lawyers across the country, and list them in the Public Interest Directory I edited in 1986.Quite soon, Harvard law School students were choosing summer positions with them and eventually taking permanent positions.

The reason so many law students at selective law schools take positions with BigLaw is not that it is a more satisfying option for them. It is simply that BigLaw has convinced the law schools to take your position that it is just too difficult to find better placements for their students (of course it helps that the recruiters for BigLaw wine and dine and provide great resorts for lovely social events for law school career planning staff at the annual NALP conferences).

For information on the genesis of these posts and on who “Debra” is, click here and read the intro to “Debra and Ron Post 1.

 Ron: As I have mentioned often, 95% of the women (and the men) who have graduated from “selective” law schools (not the best, just the ones difficult to get into) start out overrepresenting the 1% wealthiest of society while most of society has no access to lawyers.

Debra:  I’d like to see the data supporting that statement, which seems unlikely to me.  Even if you’re correct about that, however, there are plenty of lawyers in the US and plenty of law students in US law schools.  Different societal incentives – like decent paychecks, prestige, availability of training, etc. – would benefit public interest law positions just as they would benefit teachers, social workers, day care workers, nurses and every other underappreciated career in our overly money-focused society.  But the choice of where to devote one’s career efforts remains, thankfully, a personal one.  Requiring anyone to pursue a career path he does not want to pursue is as wrong and short-sighted as barring him from going after one he does want to pursue.