Saturday, July 02, 2011

Prof. writes about "scambloggers" reshaping legal education

The angry law students and recent graduates, disillusioned by the terrible job market have been much covered by the legal press and blogs like Above the Law, and the ABA Journal online. Their blogs like Third Tier Reality, Law School Transparency, and the Temporary Attorney, Lawyers Against the Law School Scam, Subprime JD, and many more have been noted at law schools and the ABA alike.
The ABA reports on law professor Lucille Jewel of John Marshall Law School in At;anta who has an article in the latest issue of the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology (vol. 12, issue 1, Winter, 2011), You're Doing it Wrong: How the Anti-Law School Scam Blogging Movement Can Shape the Legal Profession, at page 239-278. Prof. Jewel argues that the acid tone of the proliferating blogs by angry students and graduates is having a slow but powerful effect changing the law schools and the ABA which accredits law schools. The blogs raise the problem of an oversupply of lawyers in the job market, the exorbitant expense of legal education, and a lack of transparency in how law schools report and publicize post-J.D. employment data. Deans and administrators are reacting to the criticism.

Meanwhile, Prof. Bill Henderson of Indiana University has been studying the job market for some time and has come up with an article in the
ABA Journal and online that considers whether the changes in the legal marketplace were happening before the economic meltdown, and are part of a paradigm shift. Henderson has graphs showing big shifts from employment in law firms to more demand for legal services from low to middle income people who cannot afford the traditional law firm model, whether big or small firm. Henderson compares legal services to many other industries: architecture, newpapers, insurance, securities, and accounting to consider ways in which this business (which so few of us have really thought of as an industry) needs to change in order to take advantage of the new marketplace.

I keep telling students that in some ways, this meltdown actually is like a big forest that has had a tornado rip through. it leaves huge swathes of space open for a different kind of growth. If they are willing to think differently about delivery of services, there is a huge demand for services that is unmet. People who have connections in their community through ethnicity, religion, sports organizations, dog walking or any sort of connections, or who are willing to make those connections, can build a constituency and have word of mouth advertising. Attorneys who do good work for a fair price will find a market. But to make a business model that can be scaled and replicated into a larger group than just a one or two person office, you need to think very creatively about how to break apart and re-deliver the pieces of what have been done in traditional offices.

Look at the Henderson article for some provocative ideas.

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