IS THIS WHAT LAW STUDENTS SHOULD BE DOING TO BUILD A BETTER LEGAL PROFESSION
I recently read about the gathering of law students from a number of law schools that are difficult to get into who have joined together to form Building a Better Legal Profession, (BBLP) which, according to its mission state, is “a national grassroots movement that seeks market-based workplace reforms in large private law firms”.
I do not know whether this messsage was ever received by BBLP since as of this moment I have not received a response
I welcome your comments.
As a regular contributor to twitter, a blogger and one who has followed and commented on the activities of the BBLP, I suppose that qualifies me as one doing a story on BBLP.
During my five years (1984-89) as the public interest advisor at Harvard Law School and thereafter, I have observed the close working relationship between the selective law schools and BigLaw. I know how the law schools’ deficiencies and defects work to, as I refer to it, “funnel” their students to BigLaw. If you would like to read a few things I have written on this subject, you can go to Overcoming Law Schools Defects (original title in 1996 “Looking for Law in All the Wrong Places: Choosing the Best Law School”) and any of the posts on my blog such as Request of Ronald W. Fox to be Appointed Law School Industry Czar.
During my 5 years at Harvard I watched as a majority of each class indicated an interest in serving individuals, the public, non-profits, small businesses and/or being an entrepreneur but 95% ended up in BigLaw and, based on my experience advising lawyers and keeping up with news and surveys, the level of dissatisfaction among lawyers has been higher than most other occupations for decades. The economic downturn will certainly have an effect on the class of 2009 but I wonder how different the figures of those starting their careers in BigLaw were for the class of 2007.
One topic that I don’t think gets enough attention is the unmet legal needs of the public. That was my focus early on in the 70’s. Every area that I looked at there were not enough lawyers so I began to create and implement lawyer referral projects, divorce mediation, an association of law clinics and other legal delivery systems. My original interest in becoming the public interest advisor at Harvard Law School in 1983 was to increase the access of the underserved to lawyers who entered law school hoping to represent them. In 1981 Lloyd Cutler said that 95% of lawyers time is devoted to the 1% wealthiest of our society, 5% of our time goes to represent the poorest and the rest of society gets virtually none of our time. I recently read statistics indicating that there is still an extraordinarily high percentage of the public unable to secure the services of a lawyer for the majority of the serious legal issues they have (something like only 20% of the legal needs of the poorest 45,000,000 in this country are met).
Have you read the MacCrate Report? How about Larry Velvel’s “The Deeply Unsatisfactory Nature of Legal Education Today”? and what about Ron Fox’s Lawful Pursuit: Careers in Public Interest Law?
There is a such a great need for a better legal profession!
There may be a wide range of other committees of your organization looking at other aspects of reform of the legal profession so I apologize for being unaware of the breadth of the organization’s mission, goals and activities but I have only read the story about BBPL’s effort to change BigLaw.
So, I would like to know:
Does BBLP have as its primary focus changing BigLaw? BigLaw is such a small percentage of the legal profession.
Does BBLP you plan to search for, provide support for and encourage law students to seek positions with high quality superlawyers in Small/Law?
Does BBLP support the elimination of on-campus interviewing so that the law schools could begin to provide genuine career planning services?
Does BBLP support demanding that the law schools reduce the cost of attending law school by eliminating the useless third year?
Does BBLP support demanding that the law schools teach the fundamental skills and fundamental values to their students so that when they graduate, they have the confidence, as one of my students once put it, “to BE good, rather than feeling the need to go someplace they think is good”.
Does BBLP support demanding that the law schools breathe life into this fundamental value of the legal profession – the commitment of our profession to promote justice and serve the public and work to insure that its students have a realistic opportunity to do so upon graduation?
Would BBLP’s goals be met if 95% of the graduates of the “selective” law schools became associates at kindler, gentler BigLaw providing legal services to 1% of society?
I invite you to contact me if you would like to discuss any of this further.