Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Not Enough Lawyers Willing to Work for Peanuts to Help Save the Poor from Themselves!

USA Today published an article stating that there aren't enough lawyers to assist the poor who are facing foreclosure. This is a curiosity considering that thousands of lawyers have been laid off since the start of the "Great Recession." Why aren't these lawyers flocking to meet the demands of victims of foreclosure? Let's examine this article in sections and figure out why.

"The deluge is hitting cities across the country: Cleveland, Las Vegas, Washington, Phoenix, and others, USA TODAY found. In Chicago, the number of people seeking help has more than doubled over the past two years, says Dan Lindsey, who supervises a foreclosure program there. In Miami, so many people started seeking help that the local legal aid office now turns away everyone but people over 60 and families with children, says senior attorney Carolina Lombardi."

It's divinely ironic to me that lawyers tend to be centered in New York, yet the demand is in cities like Cleveland and Phoenix--cities that are not considered job meccas for attorneys. I guess the unemployed attorneys in NYC are holding out for the 6-figure dream. So, this begs the question--why don't the unemployed lawyers move to these podunk cities to provide much needed legal service to the future homeless of America? The answer lies in this next section:

"Hiring a private lawyer can cost over $5,000, a price out of reach for most homeowners who can't pay their mortgages, says AnnaMarie Johnson, executive director of Nevada Legal Services."

Well, OBVIOUSLY! If people can't pay for their home, they are not making enough to pay an attorney to save that home. But, GOSH, aren't these attorneys being selfish? Isn't it better to earn a little less and help these people rather than loiter around legal eagle towns hoping to catch the next 6-figure break? Why must lawyers make $5000 to save a family from foreclosure? Isn't that an unconscionable amount?

Oh yeah... cause they need to make money to pay back their student loans.

So, they hope and pray to be associates at big firms where they will work for companies that don't need the help, basically assisting the man with one mountain of gold in acquisitioning the second. Is that what they really want? I feel strongly that most future attorneys are hoping to go to court and fight for people's inalienable rights by using the constitution as a tool on a daily basis. But our student loans preclude us from doing real lawyering. It's so sad that there are so many people losing their property and unemployed and underutilized attorneys that would love to help them--but the two are divided by debt and income.

It almost makes me think that attorneys should be considered civil servants because they SHOULD help citizens. However, until the education bubble pops, this is unlikely to happen.

All roads lead back to reducing the cost of higher education.

This is going to be an amazing documentary btw. Give it a looksy.


  1. I'd charge no more than $1,000 to help the family in need if the going rate is $5k. That may barely cover office expenses, malpractice insurance, taxes, and CLE education to get competent in the area. But that would be my public service because the law school and the profession encourage it!

  2. watched the video....only statement I disagree with in there is "we have to have lawyers."

  3. "I'd charge no more than $1,000 to help the family in need if the going rate is $5k."

    I would guess that most families facing foreclosure would have a hard time scraping up even $1000.

    Besides, how much time and energy is involved in defending a foreclosure? A few appearances; a few letters; a few court filings; and pretty soon that $1000 will be worse than the $25 or $30 per hour you would make reviewing documents.

    Anyway, a large percentage of people don't expect to have to pay anything for a lawyer. Probably the folks being foreclosed on are made up disproportionately of such entitled types.

    It seems to me these "we need more lawyers" stories are really saying "we need more free lawyers."

  4. I totally agree w/your comments. There are so many people, be they low-income or high-income, who feel entitled to pro bono or discounted services from attorneys. I'm a solo practitioner, no one's paying me a salary to sit around a luxurious high-rise office, and I don't have time to do all this extra work for free when I have bills and overhead to pay. It's hard enough getting regular clients to pay their bills on time when their retainer deposits have been used up. Then I get emails and calls from friends, relatives, friends-of-friends, or people who claim to have met me somewhere, all wanting free legal advice. I don't need any more cheapos draining my time, and the people who get foreclosed on typically have no defense anyway. You don't see constant callings for restaurants to give free food or auto mechanics, CPAs, or dentists to work for free. We're in a business too.



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