Common sense dictates that certain aspects of the national economy are certain to expand while others contract. For example, during the height of the market; mergers and acquisitions, corporate and real estate areas of the law basked in the sunshine of the good economy. In contrast, bankruptcies, divorce and and workers comp claims are on the rise because of the bad economy. Traditionally--and fortunately for attorneys--it costs money to be unemployed, bankrupt, unhappy and single. But, no thanks to the weak and ineffectual ABA, many states have changed the laws to allow non-lawyers to do traditional recession-type toilet bowl legal work.
I ran across an example of this trend towards fleecing lawyers of clients and income on the web today. This article outlines how University of Pittsburgh undercuts the profits of many local lawyers, most likely also former students, by offering a class allowing students to represent people who have been denied unemployment benefits.
"The course ...is known as the Unemployment Compensation Practicum. In its second year at Pitt, the course is co-taught by Stephen Pincus and John Stember, adjunct law professors and partners with Stember Feinstein Doyle & Payne, a Downtown law firm that represents workers and unions in labor and employment cases."
This scheme is beautiful in its simplistic approach to destroying the legal industry. They are using law students to screw ex-grads out of an income. Once these law students are pushed out of the door, they realize that they received invaluable experience in workers comp law while in law school--but are unable to find clients post-graduation. Only then will they see that they were part of the machine. Rather than hire lawyers with experience in Unemployment Comp, people in Pittsburgh will flock to the law school for free legal help. All the while, 0Ls will be attracted to UPitt School of Law for the wonderful experience that the curriculum provides. How many classes in law school are as practical as "Unemployment Compensation Practicum"? So, once again, people are paying exorbitant tuition to work for free, and adversely affecting the legal market in their wake. Then suffering the consequences of their own uninformed choices.
And how is this possible? Because States are successfully expediting the outsourcing of legal work to both India and to non-lawyers. "A state law enacted in 2005 allows parties to be represented by non-lawyers in unemployment compensation proceedings." I think it's so ironic that the type of work that can be done anywhere (like document review and legal research and writing) is sent to India instead of sending it to lawyers sitting at laptops in the Midwest. And work that can only be done in the States because it involves a judge or administrative hearing officer and courtroom located in the U.S., is handed to non-lawyers. What about the ethical considerations of allowing for outsourcing? Who is on the hook when someone rights are waived or eroded because of ineffective legal representation, if it's not legal representation at all?
Of course, what I would want more than customers paying for legal help would be for law schools to lower tuition so much so that lawyers could work for nearly nothing upon graduation, so that poor people could have the legal help they need for little to no money. But with law schools costing as much as they do, a profession that was set up to help the people... much like the schools that manufacture lawyers... have to work FOR PROFIT. When schools adhere to their original non-profit purpose and charge an appropriate tuition, the lawyers can work for the satisfaction of the profession, and not a salary.
When will the ABA wake up and help us???
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09362/1024007-53.stm#ixzz0b06bVfTs
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