Lawyers :† An American Epidemic
Over 70% of the worlds lawyers live in the U.S.
The U.S. has over 900,000 lawyers !
Thatís one lawyer for every 300 Americans.
Washington D.C. boasts 1 lawyer for every 22 people!
Number of Law Students Enrolled :† 125,000
Number of New Lawyers every year : 40,000
Are There too many Lawyers ?
Arguments for Lawyers :
Mike Davis, a former law school dean, has developed 4 reasons which help account for the rapid growth in the legal profession :
1. Prosperity and Mobility : Higher standards of living leads people to need the assistance of lawyers more often when buying property, setting up tax shelters, and opening business.
2. Regulation :† Increase in civil rights, safety standards, and other regulations creates an increased need for lawyers.
3. Expanded Rights :† Increasing constitutional rights for individuals (like the Miranda decision) , and more stringent prosecution of juvenile offenders requires more lawyers.
4. Litigiousness :† Due to the rapid mobility of our high tech culture, people are looking outside of family and community to solve problems.† The courts are seen as a problem solving solution for disputes we used to settle among ourselves.
Essentially, Davis states that as our society becomes more complex, the need for lawyers will steadily increase.
Arguments against lawyers† :
They redistribute wealth without producing anything, therefore they are a drain on our economy. (Coblentz, 83)
Many talented people end up being lawyers when they could have done something useful with their lives. (Bok, 93)
The Training of Lawyers
As the legal profession grows in this country, standards for becoming a lawyer have been raised.
In the 1800's, an individual who wanted to practivce law would apprentice with a lawyer for a year or two, take an unstandardized oral examination, and was then declared a lawyer.
†††††† Presently, you must attend an accredited law school and then pass a bar exam given by the state where you desire to practice law.
The American Bar Association must approve of the law school curriculum in order for the institution to become accredited.
Of the 206 American law schools, 179 have received ABA accreditation ( which must be renewed every 7 years).
Most unaccredited institutions (24) are in California, which still allows the apprentice method.
Law School education was dramatized in the once popular series "The Paper Chase"
Three Major aspects of Law School :
The case Method of Study :† Understanding the law by studying specific cases and determining the key elements of law pertaining to each case.
Learning the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct : Standards for Ethical behavior is also taught .
The Socratic Method :† Dating back to Socrates, this method encourages learning by having students answer questions about specific cases during class.† This is an active learning approach and research has shown active learning to produce superior recall compared to passive learning techniques.
In the purest form, the student is questioned until they contradict themselves or can provide no more explanation of their position.
The Socratic method is supposed to inspire intelligent exchanges which will illuminate certain aspects of the law.
Specialized Skills Training
In addition to merely learning about the law, prospective lawyers must be taught about the practice of law as well.
Law Schools have 3 major ways of teaching these skills :
Externships :† Students earn academic credit for clerking for judges or doing legal research for a private practice attorney.
"Live-Client" Clinics : Working under the supervison of a real lawyer, students dispense legal aid and advice to the community at free clinics.
Simulation Courses : Students role play various legal responsibilities. For example, in moot court, lawyers can play either the defense or prosecuting attorney.
Going to and completing Law School
American Bar Association (1997) : "Law schools prefer students who can think, read, and write well, and who have some understanding of what shapes human experience.
Personality traits of law students and success :
Miller(1967) :† Used the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) to classify law students during first year and correlated drop out rate with personality type.
11% of the "Thinkers" dropped out by end of 2nd year.
20% of the "Feelers" dropped out by end of 2nd year.†
Miller's conclusion† :† If you truly care about people and are idealistic in what you feel society should become, that you will probably be quite upset or unhappy with the study and practice of law.
Comparing Lawyers to the general population :
75% of male lawyers and 60% of female lawyers would be classified as "thinkers"
In the gen. Pop., 60% of Males and 40% of Females are classified as "thinkers"
Can Law School change an individuals morality ?
Willgang & Dunn (1982):† Analyzed the moral level of law students and observed whether or not it changed during their first year at law school.
Their results showed that law students overwhelmingly functioned at Conventional levels of morality, and remained at stage 3 or 4 throughout their first year at law school.
So law school does not immediately turn people into cynical, uncaring monsters who prey upon society.
Women and the legal profession
First Female American Attorney became a lawyer in 1869.
Yale agreed to admit women to law school in 1918.
Harvard waited until 1947.
In 1975, only 5% of Lawyers were women.
By 1990-1991, this percentage had increased 4-fold, to 22%
In 1996, 43% of law students entering law school were female.
1996 ABA report on the status of women in Law still stated there were significant problems in the following areas:
Hostility and disrespect by male law students
Family Care Burdens
Lack of Role Models
Lack of Confidence
Unequal Classroom Participation