Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On Lawyers, Generally

If you're a regular reader of Instapundit, you've probably read about the legal education bubble, and how it's a lousy idea to get into law school right now, and how law students are burdened with heavy student loans and how lousy the job market is for attorneys right now.  Oh, boo hoo hoo.  I am heartily tired of listening to lawyers and law students whine.

Lawyers have generally one advantage that the rest of us don't have and that is their self-policing profession that limits entrance into it.  Most of the lawyers I've known aren't that bright, many of them having spent three years learning a trade that in the past was simply a self-study opportunity.  Any lawyer who passes the bar can hang a shingle that announces; Attorney-At-Law, and go into business for himself.  It's really that simple.  These days anyone with a computer has a law library and any student of college age that can't type has no business in any profession, so these days, lawyering can pretty much be a one-person office.

I don't know any lawyers who were forced to go to law school, and I don't know many lawyers who are starving.  It's a living, a better living than many people have.  The bar association, like many trade unions, inhibits competition by limiting the number of people who can enter the trade, much like the plumbers union.

What it true is that the lawyers union, unlike the plumbers union, hasn't kept pace with the technology.  I can go online and learn to take care of my own plumbing, and I can go online and make my own will.  The plumbers applaud the first, and the lawyers deplore the second.  Get over it.  Plumbers actively seek good applicants for the trade, and help young plumbers succeed.  Apprenticeships, mentoring, and short-term courses help new plumbers learn the trade. Continuing education, on-the-job experience and steady pay make a new plumber into an experienced professional, a credit to his profession and a valued member of the community.

Lawyers would do well to emulate the craft-trades model.  Taking a kid out of high school and teaching him the trade over the course of four or five years might make better lawyers at a lesser price.

But, whatthehell do I know?  I do enough reading to know that what they're doing now ain't working.  Perhaps it's time to think outside the box and get away from that whole three years of graduate work.


Old NFO said...

But...but... that might mean they would actually LEARN practical stuff and not just regurgitate the pap from the law schools...

Pawpaw said...

Oh, hell, NFO, based on what I've read about that hassle of passing the bar, the schools aren't even teaching them what they need to know. Teach the damned test and they'll pass the bar in three months.

I'd bet that if I could have the test and a platoon of good NCOs, I could have most of them ready to pass the bar exam in six months.

Jim Warmke said...

One difference between plumbers and lawyers is that, in most places, you can work as a plumber without joining the "union". Therefore the plumbers cartel is less powerful and the lawyers cartel. The result is that plumbers must put the interests of their clients first, lawyers often do not.

Shepherd K said...

Speaking as a recent law school drop out, you make some very valid points. There was a time when you could apprentice under a practicing attorney and study to pass the bar under that person's tutelage. It was called "being read into the law".