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Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-05-2006, 04:54 PM   #1
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Lawyer Unemployment

I read recently that there's an increase in unemployment amongst lawyers; Perhaps current or former attorneys on the forum can explain the reason for this. Also, as we enter FIRE how can we optimize or get the best "value" for legal services without getting "ripped-off" with the outlandish hourly fees. Is there a lawyer who doesn't charge for each and every phone call.

Please no lawyer jokes!
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-05-2006, 05:19 PM   #2
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

Here in nyc lawyers are in big demand.my son graduated law school in june and started his first job today.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-05-2006, 05:28 PM   #3
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

Congratulations!

Of course, that doesn't imply that older lawyers aren't getting laid off. But if they are, would it mean there are fewer lawsuits/mergers & acquisitions/wills & divorces/real estate deals/people arrested? I presume a lawyer can always just hang out their shingle in any case.

EDIT I just remembered something--I think if lawyers don't make partner by a certain age/time at the firm, they are pushed out. Or maybe that was a made-for-TV movie.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-05-2006, 05:36 PM   #4
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

thanks!
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-05-2006, 06:09 PM   #5
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

In Minnesota there was high demand for lawyers in the Twin Cities for a number of years, making it difficult to compete for the best. Last year the demand seemed to drop somewhat and we pick up a couple of great finds. If you do well in law school, you will have no problem. The choices narrow for those who don't do so well. But law firm life isn't for every lawyer. Thank goodness.

Ferco, I don't charge for every phone call. But I only make money by billing for my work and my work involves a lot of phone calls.

You may be better off with the lawyer with the high hourly rates. Our firm has one of Minnesota's preeminent estate planners. His hourly rate is considerably higher than the guys in town who hang out shingles and say they do wills. The final bill may be close to the same. If it is more it is because he gave value.

Ask a lawyer with a different specialty than the one you seek for a recommendation. Or ask the accountants at a bigger firm.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-05-2006, 06:52 PM   #6
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

Quote:
Please no lawyer jokes!
that's asking an awful lot ... esp following the subject title of this thred.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-05-2006, 07:58 PM   #7
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

Although I've gone to part time, I really don't believe that there is less work available for lawyers. Perhaps it depends on the quality of the work. That is, once an attorney develops a competence, the work finds him/her.
Which leads to the answer to your second question. Focus on competence rather than price. As Martha pointed out, compentence will provide better value. My suggestions for finding a lawyer are:
1. Recommendations from other lawyers (I am frequently asked and having worked with/against many lawyers, have a good idea of who can and who can't), 2. Recommendation from clients, 3. Recommendations from opposing clients, 4. Martindale Hubbell, 5. Don't hire a relative.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-05-2006, 08:24 PM   #8
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

As Martha said, the only thing I can sell is my time, and I have been on phone calls that last hours.

One of the best things you can do to minimize legal costs is to be well organized. If there are documents relevant to your matter, keep them organized and indexed and give a copy to your lawyer. It may also be helpful to write a short memo explaining the facts as you know them, giving a timeline, etc. The less time your lawyer needs to spend organizing your documents and learning the basics of the case, the lower your ultimate bill will be. (This is the same theory that tells you not to arrive at your tax preparer's office with a shoebox full of unorganized papers). If you have a contact list of other people involved in/with knowledge of the case, that would also be helpful.

Read everything your lawyer sends you and make sure you understand what is happening. In many states, you can follow the docket of your case online and download pleadings that have been filed. This may eliminate the need for status calls to your lawyer. It will also allow you to be more productive when you do speak with him or her.

Try to avoid litigating for "the principle of the thing". Remember that it is always and only about money -- when considering a course of action, you always need to think of it net of attorney fees. It makes no sense to spend $20,000 to collect a $3000 bill, nor to spend $20,000 to avoid a $3000 bill.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-05-2006, 08:59 PM   #9
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

As long as we live in a 'blame' society, lawyers will always be in demand.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-05-2006, 10:36 PM   #10
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

I read recently that some law work is being outsourced to India. Is nothing sacred?
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-06-2006, 01:22 AM   #11
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

Criminals require lawyers to defend them. So high lawyer unemployment must mean that there is a shortage of crime? This is a good thing. No?
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-06-2006, 02:29 AM   #12
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

from personal experience it is true (here in the UK) that the market is saturated with lawyers, the knock on effect from that is that the skill has been taken out of the job - most lawyers i know are not highly paid - this is a common misconception

certainly if one is employed by the big players such as a firm within the magic circle (london city firms) then yes lawyers can earn six figures plus (with no life either), but outside of this generally it is not a well paid profession.

hourly charging rates are also not very common over here (unless again you work for an elite niche practice with say a commercial/corporate client base or rich clients), clients are usually given a set deal

I dont want to hijack this post but i have today made an important decision - i have decided to hand in my notice at work today = i will post about this seperately

Believe me - most lawyers i know are the working poor
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-06-2006, 07:45 AM   #13
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanky
As long as we live in a 'blame' society, lawyers will always be in demand.
I consider most of what I do as trying to make a complicated world comprehensible so that all parties to a transaction understand what is expected of them and what should be expected of them. My goal is for all projects to run smooth without disputes with mechanisms in place to address surprises.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-06-2006, 08:04 PM   #14
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

I have observed that so long as there is money either being made or at risk, good lawyers stay busy. There are several legal specialties that are doing very well, such as patent law and mining law. If the economy gets worse, there will be some very busy bankruptcy and divorce lawyers. 8)
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-06-2006, 11:03 PM   #15
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

I concur with claire. It seems to me that young lawyers (at least) in the US do not make much. I seem to recall starting salaries of $30,000. For those that are in the business for the big payoff, it may be disappointing. Then, of course, they can always aspire to be the next Joe Jamail.

I missed the boat. I could have been a patent lawyer--or even a patent agent. Dumb as a brick.

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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-06-2006, 11:17 PM   #16
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

A friend of mine quit engineering three years and went to law school. He's now a patent lawyer, making at least $150K per year. I am glad that he is enjoyng his work.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-07-2006, 02:22 AM   #17
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

Quote:
Originally Posted by LEX
If the economy gets worse, there will be some very busy bankruptcy and divorce lawyers.* 8)
Have we ever had too many of those?
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-07-2006, 03:03 AM   #18
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanky
A friend of mine quit engineering three years and went to law school. He's now a patent lawyer, making at least $150K per year. I am glad that he is enjoyng his work.
my son graduated law school with honors in june.He started his first job tuesday ,100k to start plus bonuses.imagine your first job,im leaving the workforce after 30 years at that level.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-07-2006, 08:10 AM   #19
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

Quote:
Originally Posted by mathjak107
my son graduated law school with honors in june.He started his first job tuesday ,100k to start plus bonuses.imagine your first job,im leaving the workforce after 30 years at that level.
The going rate for entry-level lawyers at top law firms is now $145k/yr. For that kind of money you're selling your soul (or perhaps temporarily leasing it to the firm), but doing so is a good way to get out from under $100k+ of student loans. If you can last 3-4 years (possibly even 6-7), you can amass a very nice nest egg (give or take $400k) during that time. Thereafter, many of those top law school graduates leaving their firms go on to jobs in the government, in-house corporate legal departments or to Wall Street.
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment
Old 09-07-2006, 09:00 AM   #20
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Re: Lawyer Unemployment

When I graduated from a top 25 lawschool 2 years ago, I had MANY classmates facing employment situations paying $40k or less. Public defenders, state attorney's office, district attorneys, small practice/solo practitioners, legal aid, etc. The most that anyone was going to make with a somewhat normal work life (50 hrs/wk +-) was around $65000. Plenty of folks took the $100k/yr jobs where you sell your soul (or $135k/yr in big cities) and work dawn till dusk 6-7 days/wk.

I chose not to practice law and work as an engineer instead. My after tax earnings, on an hourly basis, are probably pretty close to what my counterparts are making in law. I can say that I had an offer to work for a small law firm of 10 attorneys in a small/midsize town in Virginia for ~50 hrs/wk for $45000/yr (a little less than what I started at with 0 yrs experience at an engineering firm). Let's just say I didn't need a spreadsheet to figure out that I needed to decline that job offer!

But slaving away for a big firm for $100k+/yr and banking most of it for a few years would be a great way to kick start a FIRE plan (if you can put your life on pause for that time period).
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