“It’s inconceivable to me that someone with a college education, or a graduate level education, would not know before deciding to go to law school that the economy has declined over the last several years and that the job market out there is not as opportune as it might have been five, six, seven, eight years ago.”
I don’t completely blame Kentucky lawyer Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III for recently uttering such manifest cluelessnes. He was basically saying shame on you for still falling for the mythology of the stratospherically paid legal profession.
A lawyer for almost 40 years, Robinson’s a product of his age, his times, and of his insular card-carrying high brow membership in a Big Law 450 attorney regional firm.
Still, he might as well be one of those annoying party-pooping scolds lecturing ‘young ‘uns‘ at the dinner table on how good they have it now compared to back in their day.
But in not entirely faulting Robinson for his callousness, that’s not to completely excuse the tactless insensitivity. From his mouth but not to God’s ears did spew forth 2012’s first breathtaking display of “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” — the arrogant indifference of “Let them eat brioche.”
Robinson was recently interviewed by Reuters and of the masses of out-of-work or underemployed and universally pissed-off disenchanted young lawyer hoi polloi, the “ABA head has little sympathy for jobless lawyers.”
He might as well have quoted William Gaddis’s “Stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance” when he also unsympathetically said “We’re not talking about kids who are making these decisions.” In other words, ‘Caveat emptor,’ dummies.
Any wonder why the American Bar Association (ABA) has been getting skewered by two U.S. Senators; by recent graduates; and by the latest law school filing suit for being denied accreditation? And of course, they’ve taken a pummeling from the mainline press and the blogosphere. See, for example,“Class action filed against law school. Will more buyer’s remorse follow?” and “Bite me.” No job market for grads but law school enrollment and tuition soar, anyway.”
It’s not unsurprising. The ABA is a macrocosm of the same attitudinal obliviousness afflicting most mandatory state bars. They don’t get it either.
For example, I recently learned the Arizona State Bar requires that its elected Governors obtain prior approval from the powerful Scope and Operations Committee if they want to put an item on the Board of Governors Meeting Agenda. Nothing can be brought to a vote before the Board without it first passing muster with this status-quo protecting, “don’t rock the boat” Committee made up of the State Bar President and other officers. Finally! There’s an explanation for the Arizona Bar being so reactionary.
But as for the ABA, it has a lot to answer for, not the least being its own self-serving institutional culture. They largely created the present mess, which was exacerbated by an unprecedented depressed legal market.
The ABA handed out candy-like law school accreditations as though there wasn’t a glut of lawyers; turned a blind eye to misleading law school post-graduation employment statistical tomfoolery; and managed an accreditation system that led directly to record-high tuitions exacted from hapless students to pay for tenured, highly paid and underworked law school faculty and complaisant administrators.
As for the inquiries from Senators Boxer and Grassley about fudged post-graduation employment numbers, Robinson maintained it is an isolated problem involving just 4 law schools out of 200. And besides, he heedlessly claimed, “It hasn’t been a groundswell of comment from Congress.”
Well-paid and kicking it.
Parenthetical to Robinson’s remarks, The Careerist just reported that tenured law school faculty jobs rank near the top of “Best Jobs” in its list of “Best (and Worst) Jobs for The Money.” With six-figure median pay and work that amounts to almost 400 hours less than the average U.S. employee, no wonder there are so many “happy law professors.”
Last, I have to think that Robinson’s blundering bloviating won’t help increase ABA membership, even if the cost is nothing in the first year for new graduates. Hide-bound insensitivity and haughtiness aren’t good recruiting tools.
But at least Robinson was cautious enough not to suggest that complaining recent grads should “go to hell.” Another southern ‘good ole’ boy’ had something to say on that score. Bill Clinton famously admonished, “Never tell anyone to go to hell unless you can make ’em go.”
Anyhow, most recent law school grads already think they’re there.