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If I Were a Rich Man...

[by Theodore Bikel, from Fiddler on the Roof]

First I criticized Clifford Winston's Op-Ed piece in the N.Y. Times, saying that law schools and the ABA didn't kill the economy and can't resuscitate it. Then I answered several posts on my You Tube animations about what to do in a weak job market. Then today I received another comment by a disgusted law grad (or about-to-grad) about the lack of jobs. And the National Jurist is implying that law schools are misrepresenting the job market and calling for stricter reporting guidelines.

I don't know whether it's generational, or simply a skewed cross-section — the people who went to school to be rich. But if you're going to law school to be rich, you're in for a big surprise: you'll either fail or hate it.

Almost all my clients in Biglaw regret it. I don't think that was true a dozen years ago, but it certainly has been true recently. Face it folks.

  • We're in a depression;
  • We're suffering economically in the global market;
  • We have no jobs in any field.

The problem isn't that you can't be a rich lawyer. You can't be a rich realtor, a rich BMW sales person, or a rich plumber. You can't work at Office Depot, KFC, or the Community Center. There are no jobs.

Of course this is an overstatement. There are a few jobs in a few industries. Financial restructuring and bankruptcy are hiring. Depression counseling and emergency room services, alcohol and drug abuse -- anything that grows when the economy shrinks. Crime is increasing, but most cities can't afford to hire new cops. You could try building cars; I hear that Japan was having trouble moving radioactive Toyotas.

None of this means that any law school, business school or computer school misrepresented the job market. It means the job market has changed. In all likelihood, it will change again, but as I say in that animation that's drawing so many attacks, the U.S. may never regain its place in the world economy.

In other places on my web page, I discuss whether law is the best field for you. I report on a lecture by Dean Edward Tom at Berkeley, discussing what makes a good lawyer. I discuss the high level of responsibility that goes with being a member of a noble profession. I urge you to take a realistic view of how much education you can afford. But no one promised you a partnership, any more than a college football player is offered a spot in the NFL -- or even a guarantee that he won't break his neck. When Robin Williams accepted his Academy Award for acting in 1998's Good Will Hunting, he says his father told him to have a safe back-up profession, like welding. If you want to be a lawyer, be a lawyer. If you don't, don't. But if you want to get rich, try lottery tickets.

Look for more info before I head to Houston.

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