January 12, 2010

OVERLAWYERED

A crazy fact:

Nearly $5 trillion of the total U.S. GDP of $14 trillion is legal fees, consultants’ fees, and payments to financial-transaction facilitators, reflecting the overlawyered nature of the country and the excessive preoccupation with deal-making (with insufficient attention to whether the deals are wise or not).

Posted by: Sarah at 09:02 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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1 More crazy facts:

From 2004 through 2008, the [law] field grew less than 1% per year on average, going from 735,000 people making a living as attorneys to just 760,000, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics postulating that the field will grow at the same rate through 2016. Taking into account retirements, deaths and that the bureau's data is pre-recession, the number of new positions is likely to be fewer than 30,000 per year. That is far fewer than what's needed to accommodate the 45,000 juris doctors graduating from U.S. law schools each year.

This jobs gap is even more problematic given the rising cost of tuition [...] a recent Law School Survey of Student Engagement found that nearly one-third of respondents said they would owe about $120,000.

Such debt would be manageable if a world of lucrative jobs awaited the newly minted attorneys, but this is not the case.

What is the attraction of law?

1. Power. How many wannabe Obamas, Hillarys, or even Bidens are among "the 45,000 juris doctors graduating from U.S. law schools each year"?

2. Money. Ilya Somin posted a rebuttal to the above article:

Even if lawyers’ pay were to go down significantly, they would still be near the top of the income distribution, and would still be making more money than liberal arts graduates without science, engineering, or math skills could earn in most other fields.

Words = power and money! Obama is the epitome of our rule-by-lawyer society. I was going to say that smooth talking can lead to success, but he doesn't even have to talk all that well!

After all, the demand for lawyers is driven by the scope and complexity of law. Given the growth of government, the expansion of regulation of many types, and the increasing complexity of most areas of law, it is likely that the clients will have more need of legal services over time.

In short, lawyer-rulers make more laws. And you wonder why bills are so long and unreadable.

Let's have million-page-long bills to stimulate the economy!

Here's our future. A caste of lawyers saying nonsense to make the masses vote for them. Oh wait, that's what we already have now. Never mind.

Posted by: Amritas at January 12, 2010 11:30 AM (+nV09)

2 One of the first comments under the Somin article expands on my points. Only one of the 59 comments after it addresses it:

And, by some strange coincidence, the complexity of the law is driven by the scope of the laws written by...lawyers.

And, based on a post a couple days ago, they’ve apparently found a perfect, politically correct means to do so, by denying the politically incorrect ones the ability to get licensed.

You guys are in the perfect catbird’s position. You can generate your own demand by having your compatriots in the legislatures write more incomprehensible and likely unnecessary laws, and the left gets the added bonus of being able to stop anyone with differing worldviews from being in on the game.

And you wonder why lawyers rank near the bottom in the public’s perceptions of their ethics? Interestingly, there are a number of categories made up mostly of lawyers that were ranked the same as or even lower than the generic “lawyer” category; state and local officeholders, congress, and lobbyists.

I found the "post a couple of days ago" that Geokstr was referring to:

Many law students (not all, but very many) are already widely known to be very cautious about expressing views that they think the majority of their classmates, or even a vocal minority, may find offensive. The threat of social ostracism and subtle but career-jeopardizing retaliation by professors and even classmates, who will soon become potential colleagues and employers, is quite powerful. (Some such threat of retaliation through social pressure may even be good, though it always has potential costs to open discussion.) But when a few comments — whether deliberate or said in the heat of debate — can lead to the denial of a bar card (after you’ve taken out $150,000+ in student loans), how many students would feel safe [...] How many would feel sure, with their professional futures on the line, that of course no hostile low-profile university committee would treat the comments as “outrageous,” “smearing,” or “harass[ing]”?

The ruling caste must maintain its purity.

Posted by: Amritas at January 12, 2010 11:53 AM (+nV09)

3

I agree with much of what he says; however, the $5 trillion number sounds wrong. Try some simple math:

Say there are a million lawyers in the country and the average billing is $200K/year (which is probably high, because there are a lot of lawyers who don't do all that well, financially speaking)...that would be "only" $200 million, which is 1/5 of $1 trillion.

Similar logic could be applied to consultants.

In any event, there are way too many people engaged in unproductive and what economists call "rent-seeking" activities...and a lot of them supported Obama because they knew, consciously or subconsciously, that it was in their financial self-interest to do so. See my post <a href="http://photoncourier.blogspot.com/2010_01_01_photoncourier_archive.html#4394955345069278791">paying higher taxes can be very profitable</a>.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: david foster at January 12, 2010 10:48 PM (uWlpq)

4

Sorry for ugly link..should have previewed. Try this:

Paying Higher Taxes Can Be Very Profitable:

http://photoncourier.blogspot.com/2010_01_01_photoncourier_archive.html#4394955345069278791

 

Posted by: david foster at January 12, 2010 10:49 PM (uWlpq)

5 david, your post reinforces my comments. One of my favorite passages is

Many of the individuals making $100-$170K in government probably couldn’t learn to control air traffic or develop new drugs if their lives depended on it…rather, their skill is in manipulating language, in constructing verbal formulations along the approved patterns [cf. Geokstr above on PC in law], and their activity is primarily about the transferring and absorption of wealth.

I wrote that "smooth talking can lead to success" - but success at what? You answered that question: "transferring and absorption of wealth."

I wrote that the attraction of law is power and money, and you wrote,

By tightly coupling the pursuit of money to the pursuit of political influence and power, Obama/Pelosi/Reid are doing great harm to the spirit of America as well as to its economy.

But it's not just those three individuals. The spirit of America is the sum of our spirits, and an entire class believes in - and benefits from - this coupling.

Posted by: Amritas at January 13, 2010 12:56 PM (+nV09)

6

Amritas..."smooth talking can lead to success"...you might enjoy this old post on The Smart-Talk Trap:

http://photoncourier.blogspot.com/2005_07_01_photoncourier_archive.html#112214675699901548

...also this more recent post on The Smart-People Crowd:

http://rwcg.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/the-smart-people-crowd/

 

 

 

Posted by: david foster at January 13, 2010 04:57 PM (uWlpq)

7 And then, there are those of us who have a uterus and responsibilities outside a job & are, apparently, too old to practice law for money--unless we want to be a solo practitioner.  Thank goodness for pro bono work or my $90,000 law degree would be worth $0.  /sarcasm

Maybe all those 'overlawyers' could back the hell off & give some of us who just want to write wills & help people adopt kids some room.

Posted by: Guard Wife at January 15, 2010 10:51 PM (zY7DC)

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