Sunday, April 21, 2013

Is Another Bubble Is On The Verge Of Imploding?

Steven Harper (In the Belly of the Beast)  sat down with Bloomberg Law to talk about student debt.

When I applied to law school in 1975, the nation was recovering from a severe and prolonged recession. Even so, I always assumed that I’d be able to make a comfortable living with a legal degree, although I didn’t think that practicing law would make me rich.

Three and a half years later, I became a new associate at one of the nation’s largest law firms, Kirkland & Ellis. It had about 150 attorneys in two offices, Chicago and Washington, D.C. My annual salary was $25,000, which is $80,000 in 2012 dollars. There were rumors that some partners in large firms earned as much as ten or fifteen times that amount; by any measure, that was and is a lot of money.

Today, the business of law focuses law school deans and practitioners in big law firms on something else: maximizing immediate profits for their institutions. That has muddied the profession’s mission and, even worse, set it on a course to become yet another object lesson in the perils of short-term thinking. Like the dot-com, real estate, and financial bubbles that preceded it, the lawyer bubble won’t end well, either. But now is the time to consider its causes, stop its growth, and take steps that might soften the impact when it bursts.  The Lawyer Bubble is about much more than lawyers…..

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