That's a bit of advice that comes from non-lawyers all the time. When I was laid off, I was told I should just join the court appointed list and I would have an instant client base. Well, I didn't get very far. In order to join the list, you must show that you have a certain amount of experience in criminal law, i.e. a trial or two under you belt. Although I would have loved to foray into criminal defense, I lacked the appropriate experience and I tucked away that bit of advice for a day when I'd feel more comfortable with criminal law.
Now, it's been eliminated as a possibility here in New York City. There were barely any waves in the news about the latest decision of His Majesty Mayor Bloomberg--perhaps because it will affect lawyers primarily. Later, it will affect indigent criminal defendants as well.
Basically, here's the article, but I'll summarize:
About 1,100 attorneys in New York make a living through a court-appointed list (i.e. 18-B attorneys). It's my understanding that you can make a decent living through 18-B assignments alone, but the trade-off is that the hourly rates are low and the Court often slashes the amount of time you've spent on the case. So, if you defend a rape case and you claim 25 hours, the Court will say, it took you only 15 and you will make a sub-par hourly rate ($75 or $60/hr depending). Nonetheless, you can up to $100,000 a year with such cases--according to my source. Of course, there are 18-B attorneys that don't take full advantage of the cases, but supplement their private practices. Please feel free to correct me if you know better. The benefit is that the the pay is guaranteed and the source of clients is never-ending--until now.
Bloomberg decided that 18-B attorneys cost too much to be sustainable and would rather set up Legal Aid Offices to represent indigent defendants. So, like that, with a wave of his majestic scepter King Bloomberg eliminated "jobs" for 1,100 attorneys.
Of course, the Legal Aid Offices that are set up will hire attorneys to deal with the same cases. But how many? There are 5 boroughs. I would assume that each borough will have something between 50 and 75 attorneys each--making approximately $45,000 a year. Once again, feel free to disagree with me. $45,000 sounds like a wonderful wage for so many of my unemployed readers, but it's hardly a sustainable income in New York Shitty when coupled with law school debt.
So, this story did not make a splash, but I feel it must be noted as another stab to the corpse of the Legal Market. Don't forget the support staff that these 1,100 attorneys likely employed. Poof! There goes their jobs as well. Lastly, we must remember the indigent defendants who are likely to get sub-par work from a understaffed Legal Aid Office and an underpaid attorney.
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