A Somewhat Honest Letter from New Jersey Bar Association President: Law Profession and Minorities

Letter From The President Of The New Jersey State Bar Association; Published: July 05, 2010

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To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

As members of the bar we represent a noble profession. Template characterization of the law field.

As we strive on behalf of our clients, we are also mindful of our obligation to improve the system of justice. This should extend to the members of the legal profession, those ‘officers of the court’ who have taken an exhorbitant amount of student loans with no system of justice looking out for their best interests as a whole.

The New Jersey State Bar Association is committed to addressing the issues that are critical to the profession and society.

Issues like the economy’s continued effects on our job market; the need to promote diversity in the legal community; the delivery of legal services, and our obligation to protect judicial independence. TTT/TTTT have no problem promoting diversity by being the primary institutions of U.S. legal education that will enroll minority students. Thus, those who had the ability to achieve and outperform are relegated to schools that have set them up for a future of disdainful looks and assumptions that the only reason they even attended law school, no matter how poor the ranking, was due to affirmative action.

Early this summer, I helped welcome over 100 new attorneys to the profession at a swearing-in event in Trenton. Each of them signed up for law school believing they would join a noble profession – a profession that would allow them to make a difference in society while earning a good living for their families. Unfortunately, the job market that greets them remains grim. [emphasis mine] Yet, the were struck by the harsh reality of the economy, closed doors, inadequate training and lack of opportunity. All the while working within the confines of this ‘noble’ profession: March 15, 2010

The Undertraining of Lawyers and Its Effects On The Advancement of Women and Minorities in the Legal Profession « Life’s Mockery

The state’s largest lawyers group is committed to assisting lawyers navigate these troubled times. We will continue to help lawyers get their practices up and running, and be a resource for those who have already hung out their own shingle. As someone who made the leap into solo practice 10 years ago, I know how the state bar can help lawyers make a transition. First, you begin by saying that the economy is bad, and that members of the legal industry have a an obligation to the law graduates and professionals. Then you encourage those minorities who aren’t afforded the opportunity to enter into decent job prospects to start their own firms with no substantial experience. They will need, escrow account, a separate interest bearing account (depends on jurisdiction) supplies, office for leasing, liability insurance, malpractice insurance, office supplies. The funds for the start up costs will likely emanate from small business loans (more debt and interest). Most businesses lose money their first year in operation. Most law students aren’t taught economics, finance or how to operate a business. Most law students aren’t graduating with practical skills to practice law and there are just too many attorneys. Since the economy remains grim, how do you expect these inexperienced lawyers to attract clientele for their small firm in which most will not be able to pay retainer or contingency fees. So, you encourage new lawyers to incur more debt, increase their professional risk in this bad economy. Most small to mid-size firms not only lose money but are often wiped out by BigLaw firms because they are unable to compete. It’s like these lawyers who do not know better or being set up for another fall with additional financial consequences.

While most lawyers have been hurt by the recession, there are signs that the diverse population in the bar has been especially hard hit. The economic crisis has reduced opportunities for minority lawyers and hampered the profession’s efforts to increase diversity. Yet, you encourage the just above mentioned approach. I know that these blogs have been sounding negative but with estimates that the job market will only worsen for the next couple of years and that the legal industry may see a slight improvement in a few years, it’s simply not a reasonable investment. They will make things worse for themselves.

This is not acceptable. Our great state – the most diverse in the nation – demands an equally diverse legal profession. In the coming months, the state bar association will convene a summit on diversity to examine the progress we have made and to chart a path forward toward the goal of a more inclusive profession. It’s about time, why don’t a national bar association do this?

An inclusive profession is powerful and meaningful in today’s increasingly global marketplace.  That’s a nice sentiment, but the reality is that it depends on who you ask.

It is true that the global marketplace has brought changes to nearly every business and profession, and the law is no different. So true, legal outsourcing to India via LPOs has changed the American legal industry. There is cause for concern about how these trends may diminish the importance of practicing lawyers – and the public’s access to quality legal services.

In order to better understand and respond, we will establish a task force on the future of the delivery of legal services, with an eye toward protecting the public and preserving our professional values.

When it comes to protecting the public, we are reminded how blessed we are in New Jersey to have one of the most respected state court systems in the nation. That is because it is an independent and impartial branch of government. We will continue to fight to preserve the sanctity of our justice system – because every judge in our courts and every resident of New Jersey deserve it. This is confusing. The letter begins by stating the need to protect the interests of attorneys who are affected by the downturn in the economy. I will have to assume that getting attorneys to open firms to represent clients somehow enhances the justice system. So the interest is moreso getting criminals legal representation while lawyers sink in a mire of debt with no one caring about their interests.

After all, this is what the bar association is about:  Examining the tough issues so you know what is at stake and offering insight about the path to take.

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3 Comments »

  1. Anonymous Said:

    “In the coming months, the state bar association will convene a summit on diversity to examine the progress we have made and to chart a path forward toward the goal of a more inclusive profession.”

    Hurray! Another “summit”! That should solve everything! The days of last hired/first fired are officially over!

    • A Law School Victim Said:

      Summit is code for a meeting, there needs to be a practical overhaul. p.s.: you still want to blog. LOL

  2. Very insightful points here as it seems the legal profession is in fact evolving with the times – specifically the tough econ times today. I have studied other industries and professions and the practice of law is following some similar paths that others have followed or are in the process of changing.

    It’s encouraging to know that the NJSBA is looking at the issue more holistically to fully understand and analyze it. The industry is at a crossroads of sorts and laying down well informed guidelines and opinions will make a huge impact in how law is practiced in the future. Perhaps in a yet to formed niche or some other capacity that may evolve over time with the Bars guidance.


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