Saturday, March 9, 2013

Law Schools Running Out of Applicants and Jobs for Graduates – Will Open Non-Profit Law Firms

Well, Non- Profit Firms That Charge $125.00 An Hour

Who do these people think they are, plumbers?

The attitude of most Americans towards lawyers in a combination of admiration and disgust.  The admiration primarily comes as a result of the fictional portrayal of lawyers in the entertainment media, men and women dedicated to justice, and who, for some reason, never present a bill.  In the real world the emotion is generally disgust, for reason too obvious to merit mention.

The legal profession is approaching somewhat of a crisis, namely too many lawyers and too high a price for a legal education.  So some schools are dealing with the problem by sponsoring community law firms, non-profit firms where recent law school graduates work under the supervision of an experienced lawyer to bring legal services to the community, particularly that part of the community that may not be able to afford legal representation.

A dozen law schools, including City University of New York and Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, have set up incubators to train future solo practitioners in their first year out of school, offering office space and mentors. Pace Law School in White Plains opened what it calls a community law practice last fall with four graduates serving the region.

“You can’t just hang out a shingle and expect clients to show up in droves,” said Jennifer C. Friedman, executive director of the Pace Community Law Practice. “We want to provide our graduates with the tools of success while serving low- and moderate-income clients.”

Of course, benevolence and lawyers only goes so far.  At Arizona State

Laura Segall for The New York Times
Douglas J. Sylvester, dean of the law school at Arizona State University. His school is setting up a nonprofit law firm this summer for some of its graduates.

The plan is to have four to five groups of lawyers each overseen by a full-time, salaried supervising lawyer serving a range of clients. The firm will do legal work for other parts of the university, including its high-tech innovation center. The aim is to charge $125 an hour in an area where the going hourly rate is $250. The school also says it wants to reach out to veterans, Hispanics and American Indians whose legal needs are not well met.

Let’s see, at $125.00 an hour that about $250,000 a year for the annual cost of the attorney.  Let’s see, the salaries for the attorneys in these programs will be very low, maybe $50,000 to $75,000.  Let’s see, how much does that leave for overhead?  Oh, a lot.

The reaction from Veterans, Hispanics and American Indians, "thanks, we still can't afford your legal services but at least what we cannot afford costs a lot less".

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