Good News, Bad News: Less Lawyers in the Pipeline, but Escalator is Broken

New Orleans    I was going to write about the interview with Long Beach lawyers for DUI cases and the fact that the new health care regulations are still going to suck out 10% of a worker’s pay until he’s making about $15.00 per hour or $30,000 a year, but, hey, there are too many “Debbie Downer” stories in my repertoire, so let’s look at some good news:   law school applications are down to a 30-year low this year! You can see this for further information on a similar subject. Now that’s great news!  Finally, we can imagine a future with fewer lawyers! So in case you have been wondering about why you should hire an attorney for your business succession plan, now is perhaps the best time to do your research and pick on a lawyer soon.

The oil field injury attorneys San Antonio are wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth.  Could it be that the exorbitant cost of law school is depressing the market?  Or, is it the fact that the young grads are lucky to make $40,000 a year these days with $100,000 plus in debt?  Or, maybe they feel like it would just be easier to go straight.  As my comrade, Orell Fitzsimmons, field director for Local 100 United Labor Unions, observed, he had heard talk of a cheaper two-year program, and if they added “an extra year for some ethics training it would do them all a world of good.”  Amen!

But maybe not, since they are dropping like rocks!   Listen to the numbers from the Times: 

As of this month, there were 30,000 applicants to law schools for the fall, a 20 percent decrease from the same time last year and a 38 percent decline from 2010, according to the Law School Admission Council. Of some 200 law schools nationwide, only 4 have seen increases in applications this year. In 2004 there were 100,000 applicants to law schools; this year there are likely to be 54,000.   Such startling numbers have plunged law school administrations into soul-searching debate about the future of legal education and the profession over all.

“Soul-searching debate about …the profession over all.”  Wow!  Now, that would be some good news.  The first mass labor federation, the Knights of Labor, famously welcomed almost all workers to membership, but barred lawyers, not wanting to ruin the union’s reputation.

“Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility you went to business or law school. Today the law school escalator is broken.”  Times quote of the day from William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University, on the declining number of applications to United States law schools.

The Law Offices of Boyd & Boyd, P.C. – Hyannis Estate Planning Law Firm points out “Escalator is broken.”  Maybe while the “soul-searching debate” is going on, there should be some discussion about law as a service profession rather than a get-rich-quick scheme?  This orlando criminal defense attorney says that perhaps there could be a couple of points raised about protecting the little guys and the biscuit cookers, and not just sharp elbowing for corporations and the big timers.

This could be good news all around.  No offense, but I’m for putting a positive spin and the best construction on this report.

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Devil in Details Over Immigration Reform Prospects

Shreveport     If the devil is in the details, vagueness about the specifics of the proposal on real immigration reform may be hell itself.

President Obama, speaking in Las Vegas, had it both ways.  He both encouraged quick action, threw roses to both the Republican and Democratic efforts, and repeated his “principles” for reform, but also said little in the way of specifics and once again indicated that his strategy would be to wait for their bill and only threaten to later come up with his own (when it would probably be way too late) if there were troubles.  Too much of this sounded to me like places we have visited too long in the past.  Certainly, the President was correct to reject  anymore of the Republican a priori of yet more enforcement first with a little reform later, but after that the lack of specificity, I find it scary.

How long might immigrants be stuck in the way stations along the “path” to citizenship?  Clearly not months from what the Republicans are indicating, so how many years?  And, would there be any protection while waiting?

When they talk about more workplace enforcement, are immigrants going to be allowed to keep jobs while they wait for citizenship.  Forcing people out of work that they have sometimes held for years and years is hardly reform and often a personal, family, and community tragedy.  Are we talking about going forward or more “match” programs going backwards?

Reuniting families is fantastic, but is this a fast track?  Can the Dreamers bridge their families into citizenship more quickly?

And, what about deportations, where the Obama Administration has set terrible records, will these cease during the debate?

Almost all of the statements I read from immigration reform advocates before the speech were hopeful, but tentative and waiting for the details.  I would be surprised if advocates felt reassured by Vegas.  We are mainly hanging in the wind still.

The New York Times saw some improvements in the President’s words compared to earlier proposals.

Mr. Obama released his own list of immigration-reform principles separately on Tuesday, and it is far better than the plan put forward by the senators. Besides the forceful language on citizenship, it offers ways to end backlogs in family-sponsored immigration, urges more staffing and improvements in immigration courts and added protections for immigrants who assert their labor rights. It also declares that members of same-sex couples should have the same opportunities to sponsor their partners for visas that others do.

One interesting tidbit in the news was a reminder of an old proposal for handling future flow by reforming the one-size fits all countries quota system that might impact on the issues of immigration and borders in the future.

One alternative might be a plan introduced by Senator Philip A. Hart, a Michigan Democrat, in the early 1960s. Senator Hart, who died in 1976, gave his name to the 1965 immigration law, along with Representative Emanuel Celler, a New York Democrat. But before that, he proposed a system that would have given 20 percent of the visas to refugees; 32 percent to countries in proportion to the size of their populations (recognizing need); and 48 percent to countries in proportion to their amount of emigration in the last 15 years (supporting family unification and existing ties in immigrant communities in the United States).

That’s what I would call a specific proposal that allows you to get your teeth into something and see where everyone stands and then move forward.

Platitudes about principles don’t add up to immigration reform.  Talk is cheap, no matter how sweet.

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