Three-year law school deserves second look amid upheaval – [Editorial]
The Boston Globe
August 30, 2013
A massive market failure. That’s what University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos likes to call the current price structure for legal education, and it’s hard to disagree: Elite law programs now charge upwards of $50,000 per year, a price that’s doubled over the past two decades. Law students enrolling this fall will graduate with an average of $200,000 in debt, heading into an employment market with scarcely more than one job for every two newly minted lawyers. Amid this economic collapse, the legal profession should welcome creative solutions, big or small.
President Obama offered his own off-the-cuff fix recently when, in speaking about college affordability, he challenged the current convention of the three-year law school. Obama proposed shortening it to two years; the traditional third year of classroom learning would be better used, he suggested, if aspiring lawyers gained practical experience through, for example, a low-paying legal apprenticeship or judicial clerkship.
The cost-cutting advantages of a two-year law school are clear: Students would pay one-third less tuition. For a young lawyer heading into criminal practice or a district attorney’s office, the difference would be significant. Even for those working in large firms, where clients have grown reluctant to pay stiff rates for rookie lawyers, the reduced debt would be helpful. But lopping off a year of academic study would also be a dramatic change. The third year often allows students to delve into specialized areas of the law, and should remain available to those who want to pursue deeper instruction.
Cutting the third year would also have a serious financial impact on law schools and universities as a whole. Law schools are a cash cow for universities, which use up to 30 percent of their revenues to buoy other, less profitable fields. Still, experimenting with different models for legal education makes more sense than simply sticking by the three-year model to preserve the cash flow to universities; different legal specialties require different types of instruction.
Some law schools, including New York University, are already trying versions of the two-year model, and the American Bar Association should try to ease the way. State bar associations can help foster experimentation, too: The New York state bar requires only one year of law school, and Maine’s only two years. Four states accommodate the earlier practice of “reading the law,” meaning applicants to the bar needn’t attend law school at all if they have practical experience to rely on. That’s unlikely to be the ideal training for most future American lawyers, but it was once good enough for Abraham Lincoln.
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Joseph shares plan for the Alabama State Bar - Three questions with a CEO
By Antrenise Cole,Birmingham Business Journal
August 23, 2013
Alabama State Bar’s new president, Anthony Joseph, spoke to the Birmingham Business Journal this week about his focus for the one-year term and Birmingham’s legal industry.
Joseph is a shareholder in the Birmingham law firm of Maynard Cooper & Gale PC.
Here are some highlights from our interview:
BBJ: Where do you want to take the Alabama State Bar this year?
Joseph: I have four areas that I want to work on this year: access to justice for impoverished and defenseless citizens and also our returning veterans, adequate court funding, improving our digital communications component at the bar and succession planning.
BBJ: What do you see as the biggest challenge for the Alabama State Bar right now?
Joseph: I would say adequate funding for the court and access to justice. And I also believe that we have to continue to be sensitive and pay attention to indigent defense. We have to make sure that we are providing individuals without the financial means of having a case heard in court with quality representation.
BBJ: What do you see as Birmingham’s greatest strengths in the legal industry and Birmingham’s biggest challenges?
Joseph: I think the biggest strength we have in the Birmingham legal community are the relationships with our fellow lawyers. Technology is a good thing, but we also need to continue to try to have those personal interactions with our lawyers.
The challenge is making sure our lawyers are fully engaged and are following the moral obligation we have as lawyers to serve our clients and the greater community. We tend to get busier as time goes along, but I think we have a moral imperative to make sure that we are part of the community.
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State overhauls indigent defense costs
By Mary Sell, Decatur Daily
August 26, 2013 12:02
MONTGOMERY — Alabama spent about $65 million in 2011 to provide attorneys for people who could not afford one.
The expense prompted the state to change how it oversees indigent defense. The result: This year, that cost is expected to be about $46 million, according to the Department of Finance.
Lawmakers said part of the problem with the previous system was attorneys could overbill or otherwise milk the system of defending the poor in court. The changes addressed that issue.
“It is starting to have the desired effect,” said Republican state Sen. Cam Ward, an attorney from Alabaster who sponsored the law. “Indigent defense was being abused by some attorneys, because of overhead they were charging. There were those making six-figure salaries off of state-paid defense of the indigent.”
The 2011 legislation set up an office of indigent defense under the Finance Department to monitor expenses. It also encourages, but does not mandate, that counties get away from appointing private defense attorneys on a case-by-case basis and instead use a contract system. The contract system commits attorneys to multiple cases for a set amount of money.
Not all local counties have seen a decline in the past two years, but some judges said that’s because they took action before 2011.
Fees paid to attorneys to handle indigent cases still can vary from county to county.
Before 2011, 17 counties used contract systems to hire public defenders. Now, 37 do, state Deputy Finance Director Clinton Carter said. A few counties have set up public defender’s offices, where the attorneys are government employees.
In the Tennessee Valley, Lawrence and Morgan counties operate under the contract system. Limestone uses the appointee system.
In Morgan County, Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson said a contract system was started in 2009 because he thought it would save money. He said it has achieved that goal, and that the system has been better for the county and defendants because attorneys hired on contract generally have more experience.
Thompson has nine attorneys on contract to handle felony cases at a cost of about $3,600 a month. They each handle an average of seven cases a month.
“That’s not a lot of money,” he said, adding he doesn’t have a problem filling the contracts. “I have lawyers standing in line.”
Some northwest Alabama judges said the appointee system still works for them.
“The upside of the contract system is that it is cheap, but the downside is that the few attorneys that have the contracts have a massive amount of work to do,” said presiding Lauderdale County Circuit Judge Mike Jones.
About four years ago, before the new law, he set up a local committee to monitor appointee-attorney expenses.
“We want to avoid any hint that someone is trying to game the system,” Jones said. “I want young attorneys to have a chance to do indigent defense work, spread the wealth out among the local bar and still not be an economic drain.”
He said the system has worked well. There are about 35 attorneys in the pool of appointees, Jones said.
In Colbert County, most indigent criminal cases are handled on contract, said Nathan Johnson, one of six attorneys paid $2,750 monthly for their work. That system has been in place about 20 years.
“Every county can be different, so really, the legislation didn’t change anything except the rate of pay for hourly” appointed attorneys, Johnson said.
Previously, attorneys statewide could earn as much as $105 per hour on appointed cases. Now that’s capped at $70, Carter said.
“Lawyers weren’t too happy, but judges and the public hopefully will be,” he said.
Decatur attorney Brian White said there were concerns when the changes were implemented.
“Any time the Legislature starts to work on the criminal justice system, it is cause for anxiety,” White said. “They are generally not in the business of offering more resources.”
White is a district vice president for the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. He said determining the legislation’s success is complicated.
“If you ask the question, ‘Has it worked?,’ I think it has achieved the Legislature’s goal of decreasing spending,” White said. “Has that met the needs of courts? Has it met the needs of defendants? That’s a whole different question.”
White said other factors need to be considered, such as the number of cases or whether the district attorney is “operating more efficiently” and getting plea deals done more quickly.
In Morgan County, a smaller number of cases seem to play a role in the savings. In 2011, $1.4 million was spent on 1,074 cases. With two months left in fiscal 2013, less than $1 million had been spent on 570 cases.
Lawrence County has had a contract system for years, Circuit Judge Mark Craig said. But two years ago the number of attorneys doing felony cases on contract grew from three to five, and they were paid less — about $3,000 a month.
“Since we implemented those changes, we rarely go outside those contracts (to hire attorneys on a per-case basis),” Craig said. “It is saving money for the state.”
Cost of indigent defense
Indigent defense expenditures by county:
County 2011 2012 *2013
Lawrence $263,722 $324,420 $252,833
Limestone $1,089,089 $1,399,997 $1,128,245
Morgan $1,456,613 $1,048,571 $999,585
*Two months remain in fiscal year
Number of indigent defense cases
Number of indigent cases by county:
County Fiscal 2011 *Fiscal 2013
Lawrence 147 121
Limestone 1,207 1,203
Morgan 1,079 570
*(October ’12–July ’13)
Source: Alabama Department of Finance
See also, Alabama spending less on lawyers to represent indigent defendants (Associated Press)
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Federal judge Myron Thompson moves to senior status; Obama to appoint successor
By Mary Orndorff Troyan, Gannett Washington Bureau
August 24, 2013
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, whose rulings over 33 years dramatically changed how Alabama treats its employees and most vulnerable citizens, has moved to senior status.
The decision creates a vacancy in the Middle District of Alabama and a chance for President Barack Obama to appoint a successor.
Thompson was 33 when President Jimmy Carter nominated him to the bench in 1980. He became the second African-American federal judge in the state.
His move to senior status, which involves a reduced caseload, was effective Thursday, said Debra Hackett, clerk of U.S. District Court in the Middle District in Montgomery.
“Myron has handled, in my judgment, the most important civil rights cases in Alabama since Frank Johnson,” said U.W. Clemon, a former federal judge in Birmingham. “I stand in awe of him.”
Thompson replaced Johnson on the bench, and their work over decades ended discriminatory hiring practices in state agencies, revolutionized care for the mentally ill and made sure minority voters were treated fairly in elections.
“Judge Thompson was one of the inheritors of Frank Johnson’s mantle, and he did it justice,” said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “He dealt with some of the most complex and controversial cases of our time, and he handled them fairly and thoughtfully.”
As a judge in the state capital, Thompson presided over especially high-profile cases involving public corruption and state policy.
In 2002, Thompson told then-Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to remove his monument to the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building.
More recently, in 2011, Thompson’s commentary in a bribery case — in which he declared that two white state legislators were motivated by racial bias — was cited during arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court as evidence that minorities still need the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Clemon said Thompson’s legacy will be his “unyielding commitment to equal justice for all.”
Without him, “I think there would be fewer blacks in state positions,” Clemon said. “I think there would be fewer blacks holding elective office. I think state officials would feel somewhat less restricted in imposing various kinds of barriers to the progress of black Alabamians.”
Whomever Obama nominates to replace Thompson will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
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Federal Courts in Crisis
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times
August 25, 2013
Observers of the federal court system cannot recall the last time such a thing has happened, if it ever has. Chief judges in 86 of the 94 Federal District Courts around the country — more than half of them Republican appointees — have now joined to sound an alarm about the grave damage to the nation’s justice system caused by years of flat financing followed by Washington’s lunatic across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. Their urgent plea to stop starving federal courts of adequate resources to fulfill the judiciary’s constitutional responsibilities deserves a response from Congress.
In a letter sent earlier this month to leaders of the House and the Senate and the Judiciary and Appropriations committees in both chambers, the judges described themselves as “the boots on the ground in our nation’s federal trial courts.” They offered a detailed, firsthand view of the judiciary’s “unprecedented financial crisis” and its “devastating impact on court operations nationwide.”
The judiciary’s current staffing level, the letter said, is the lowest it has been since 1999 despite a significant increase in the workload. Congress’s $350 million reduction in the federal judiciary’s budget for fiscal 2013 has slowed the processing of civil and bankruptcy cases and forced many courts to stop conducting criminal trials on all or some Fridays.
The cuts have also “put public safety at risk” by reducing the number of probation and pretrial services officers available to supervise defendants awaiting trial and people released into the community after serving time in prison for serious crimes. The judges expressed particular concern about the crippling reductions in the funds available for drug, mental health and sex-offender treatment programs and for drug testing and electronic and GPS monitoring of offenders.
The letter correctly highlights the negative effect of this year’s $50 million cut to the network of high-quality federal defender offices across the country. Many experienced lawyers representing indigent defendants have been laid off, and the salaries of the remaining defenders have been effectively reduced by a requirement that they take up to 20 unpaid furlough days. “We are deeply concerned that the cuts in federal defender offices will severely undermine and weaken a program that has taken years to build,” the judges wrote.
With no end to Washington’s partisan budget standoff in sight, the executive committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which sets policy for the federal judiciary, recently took emergency steps to try to minimize further cuts to the federal defender program in the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1, temporarily reducing the hourly rates for private court-appointed lawyers by $15 an hour and deferring some of the payments for their work to fiscal 2015.
These moves were necessary. But they will make it harder to recruit able private lawyers to do indigent criminal defense work.
The nation’s independent federal court system, though hardly perfect, is central to American democracy and the rule of law. Its current crisis was created by Washington politicians, and Washington politicians hold the power to solve it. The letter from the judges asks that Congress approve the $496 million increase in funding for the judiciary recently approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee even if a continuing budget resolution is enacted this fall keeping government spending at its current level.
That would be the reasonable thing to do, even though reason is in short supply in today’s Washington.
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Bar Association Softens Its Stance on Sharing Fees
Jacob Gershman, The Wall Street Journal
August 26, 2013
The legal profession's gatekeepers are sending the strongest signal yet that they are open to sharing their world with nonlawyers.
The American Bar Association has long prohibited law firms from opening their doors to outside investors. Ethics rules bar most U.S. lawyers from sharing profits with nonlawyers. The District of Columbia is the exception. But in recent years, the idea of firms splitting profits with nonlawyers has caught on in Britain and Australia.
The ABA last week said it was softening its stance on fee sharing, handing down guidelines that allow law firms indirectly to split fees with outsiders.
The association's Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility committee said it would be let law firms to split fees with other lawyers or law firms practicing in jurisdictions that have more relaxed rules. Such situations come up when multiple firms work together for a single client.
The formal opinion, the closest the legal community is likely to get to an endorsement from the ABA, isn't binding. But the opinion could reflect a shift in attitudes about the financial arrangements of law firms and encourage state bar associations to relax their own rules on fee sharing.
The debate over fee sharing has polarized the legal community for more than a century.
"There are traditionalists who resist change of any kind," said Proskauer Rose LLP litigator Charles Mokriski, a member of the ABA ethics committee.
Huntsville attorney Dag Rowe selected for second term on the Alabama Securities Commission
Brian Lawson, al.com
August 19, 2013
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Huntsville attorney S. Dagnal "Dag" Rowe has been recommended by the Alabama Bar Association and nominated by Gov. Robert Bentley to return to a seat on the Alabama Securities Commission.
Rowe served on the seven-member commission, which regulates securities in Alabama, from 2008 to 2012.
He has practiced law in Huntsville for more than 40 years and is a partner with the firm Wilmer & Lee. Rowe's practice areas have included corporate, business and banking law, as well as bankruptcy law and trust and estate law.
"It is, of course, flattering to have the Governor's confidence and it's important and exciting to a play a part in preserving an environment where entrepreneurs can raise capital and investors are fairly protected," Rowe said. "That's the job and role and responsibility of the Alabama Securities Commission."
Joseph Borg, director of the Alabama Securities Commission, said Rowe has a proven legal track record and distinguished himself during his tenure on the commission.
The make-up and role of the commission is spelled out under Alabama law.
"Its members consist of the State Superintendent of Banks, the State Commissioner of Insurance, the Attorney General of Alabama and two members appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, from lists of nominees submitted by the Alabama Bar Association and the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants," the law reads. "The Commission is charged with the enforcement of laws governing the issuance, sale and other transactions relative to securities."
Bentley's nomination of Rowe requires the formal confirmation of the Alabama Senate.
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Public defenders, probation services to have cutbacks
Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
August 19, 2013
WASHINGTON — The federal judiciary for the first time is cutting the fees of court appointed defense lawyers, including those representing death penalty defendants, to deal with the "dire consequences'' of required government budget reductions known as sequestration.
The reductions, outlined in a notice to U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake, chairwoman of the Federal Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Services, are part of an unprecedented criminal justice cost-cutting effort that also will scale back operations of federal probation services at a time when authorities are planning to rely more heavily on programs like probation to help reduce the rising federal prison population.
The cuts in attorneys' fees will be implemented next month with payments dropping from $125 per hour to $110 in non-death penalty cases and from $179 per hour to $164 in cases where capital punishment is being sought.
The reductions are aimed at saving $50 million during the next 13 months to avoid further cuts into the full-time staff of the federal defenders service. The defender program consists of both full-time public defenders, who have been targeted for furloughs and layoffs, and private court-appointed lawyers who assist in the representation of the indigent.
In addition to the fee cuts, millions of dollars in fees to the outside court-appointed counsels, scheduled for payment in fiscal year 2014 (beginning in October), would be deferred into fiscal year 2015.
In the letter to Blake made public Monday, William Traxler Jr., chairman of the Judicial Conference's Executive Committee, warned that the fee cuts "may impact the delivery of justice, but are necessary to avoid permanent damage to the federal defender program.''
"Measures of this kind, however, are not sustainable in the long term and certainly would not be required if the judiciary were receiving an appropriate level of funding in this account,'' Traxler said.
Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder called for an end to the forced cuts, noting that the country's indigent defense systems "continue to exist in a state of crisis.''
"To address this crisis, Congress must not only end the forced budget cuts that have decimated public defenders nationwide, they must expand existing indigent defense programs,'' Holder told the American Bar Association.
Notice of the fee reductions come less than a week after the chief judges of 87 federal districts warned congressional leaders and Vice President Biden that funding reductions to the judiciary have "put public safety at risk.''
Although the number of convicted offenders supervised by probation officers is expected to increase from a record 187,311 in 2012 to 191,000 by 2014, the number of probation and pre-trial services officers employed by the judiciary to supervise those offenders has been reduced by 7% since 2011 to a staff of about 6,000.
Holder, in the same ABA speech, said the federal government should rely more on such supervision programs and less on incarceration for non-violent drug offenders, who make up about half of the growing federal prison system which now holds 219,000 inmates.
"Cuts to officer staffing levels have forced cutbacks in these activities to crisis levels,'' the judges said in the letter last week. "Particularly troublesome is the 20% cut that had to be made to the … allotments that fund drug, mental health and sex offender treatment and testing services for offenders and electronic GPS monitoring.''
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, chief judge of New York's Southern District and one of the two main authors of the judges' letter, said the appeal to Congress is the first she can remember in more than two decades on the bench.
In her own district, forced budget reductions have hit the probation and treatment programs especially hard, Preska said in an interview, requiring a 43% cut in substance abuse treatment for offenders, a 7% drop in mental health treatment and a 24% cut in special location monitoring programs, including GPS monitoring of those on supervised release.
She said the reduction in attorneys' fees is "very dangerous'' in regions of the country like New York, where legal fees are especially high.
"Fees of $125 per hour is virtually charity work in New York,'' she said. "We want to make sure we can attract competent lawyers to join the panel'' of court appointed attorneys.
"We are very concerned,'' she said.
Agency gets $25,000 grant for coparenting program
By Lisa Singleton-Rickman, Times-Daily
August 12, 2013
FLORENCE — The Lauderdale County Children’s Policy Council received a $25,000 grant from the Alabama Law Foundation to continue its CoParenting Solutions program.
Through the use of mediation services, the court-ordered program helps families work together to form safe and stable child visitation schedules and other services.
Council member Lee Cox said the program, which is in its second year, has served more than 120 people, which includes 60 families.
Policy council coordinator Heather Haynes said the program’s greatest success has been in helping children have healthy relationships with both parents, which is the desire of the courts.
“The program has a two-fold purpose — to secure visitation schedules between non-custodial and custodial parents and help alleviate some stress and time delays that have been created by budget cuts in the court systems,” she said.
Haynes said the goal of the family court system is that children have both parents active in their lives.
“This grant makes it possible for these situations to be handled smoothly,” Haynes said. “As these cases go through the court system, the judge sees a great deal of disagreement among parents.”
Haynes said the grant makes valuable services available.
“All our funding is through grants, fundraisers and donations,” she said. “We couldn’t offer these services without this money. Most of our services are free, so we have to have funding. This grant is keeping the program going another year.”
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Law students hone academic, professional skills at Birmingham firm's Boot Camp for Success
By Kelsey Stein, al.com
August 03, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – On Friday and Saturday, more than 50 law students eagerly listened to the advice of young and veteran attorneys who work in all areas of the legal field at the third annual Boot Camp for Success.
The students came from nine law schools in four Southeastern states to attend the event, which included roundtable discussions and panels with attorneys from corporations, government and local firms.
The camp, in its third year, is organized by a committee of attorneys at Birmingham firm Balch & Bingham.
"The boot camp is targeted at minority and underprivileged students, but anyone is welcome," said Millie Ronnlund, one of the organizers.
"It combines professional and academic skills," Ronnlund said. "The advice is very general, just to let them know what they're getting into."
Birmingham attorney Rodney Barganier recently opened his own firm after practicing law in Alabama since 2001.
"I always dreamed of having my own law firm," he said. "It gives me the freedom to come speak at events like this and to give back to the community."
On Saturday, Barganier participated in a panel discussion about being an attorney and the best preparation to enter the profession.
"As a young lawyer, you need to have someone you can call or email and ask questions," he said. "It gets you on the right track to success."
Ronnie Rice, of Mobile, took his first law classes at Miles College over the summer. He appreciated the effort to increase diversity in the legal profession and also enjoyed an opportunity to learn from and network with local attorneys.
For Rice, the event, especially the panel discussion with Barganier, answered many of his questions.
"Most importantly, you need to be prepared, whether you're in class with case briefings or readings, or when you're in the courtroom with filings and documents," Rice said. "Also, you need to add value to your community."
The opportunity to learn more about the profession has Rice even more focused on his goal of one day opening a partnering firm that focuses on employment and personal injury law and, citing his Mobile roots, perhaps maritime law.
"It was refreshing because everyone they brought in to speak seemed so eager to help us," said Schuyler Gray, a law student at the University of Florida.
Two lessons from the weekend resonated with Gray the most.
First, treat law school like it's your job, from planning study hours to preparing classwork, and second, that networking is crucial for attorneys. Most of all, though, Gray appreciated the panelists' enthusiasm.
"Sometimes there's a negative stigma about being an attorney, so it was good to see them happy, excited and passionate about what they do," he said.
According to the American Bar Association, the legal profession is far less diverse than the general population – about 12 percent of lawyers are minorities, compared to one third of the general population.
"We are dedicated to advancing the diversity of the legal profession and believe that our profession should fully reflect the communities we serve," Balch & Bingham managing partner Alan T. Rogers said. "Increasing diversity in the legal profession is an ongoing effort that will always have our full commitment."
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Why The Legal Profession Isn't Recovering With The Rest Of The Economy
Aug. 5, 2013
Just when you thought there couldn't be more analysis about why the lack of lawyer jobs is no big deal, they pull some more in. Robert Anderson, a professor at Pepperdine Law says the problems with the job market may be nothing more than the result of an aging lawyer population. From his blog Witnesseth:
Between 1980 and 2005, the median age of lawyers increased from 39 to 49. [...]
That means that the reported oversupply of lawyers may well result from demographic factors, rather than permanent changes in the legal market. The demographic factors, in turn, probably result from a combination of lawyers waiting longer to retire because of 401(k) accounts decimated during the financial crisis together with the "bulge" of baby boomers working their way through the system.
The bulge of baby boomers should be a very rare occurrence, one which the legal market maybe doesn't need to do much of anything to address. It sucks for people graduating while boomers are hanging on to their jobs, but any solutions would take too long, the problem will be gone before there's any affect. But what about that first explanation, that lawyers are staying in the workforce longer in order to recoup their losses from the recession? The market is back, baby:
The Dow hasn't just recovered, it's up nearly 12% over it's pre-recession high. If you add in extra income from staying on the job a few more years, lawyers who were delaying retirement because of the recession should now be much better off than they were before the crash. Why not just cash out now and get the demographics back in line? We suspect two reasons.
First, lawyers may be below-average investors. Many lawyers work in small shops that won't have a formal retirement program, so they're going to be handling their retirement savings themselves. And partners in firms big enough to have retirement programs are probably investing quite a bit beyond their 401(k)s. You know what happens when people who have a lot of faith in their intelligence but less information than professional investors try to play the stock market? They lose. People who play the market are also more prone to pulling their money out during a recession, as opposed to people with generic mutual funds who will tend to just let it ride. So, those lawyers who were too smart for their own good didn't get to reap the benefits of the recovery, and now they have to work an extra decade to make up their losses.
Second, there's the availability heuristic at work. The recession is still fresh in everyone's memory, and if you saw your retirement savings wiped out, it's going to be an especially strong memory. That means the goal posts for retirement have moved. You now need enough to retire on plus enough to cover the losses of another recession. It doesn't matter that retirees should be putting their investments into safer vehicles, or that another recession would be followed by another recovery, so you don't really need to save much extra to prep for it; cognitive biases don't care about that stuff. You're once bit and twice shy, and that's the end of that.
Back before the recession, and even during its early days, the pom-pom wavers talked about how law was recession proof, or at least resistant to the recession. Crimes still get committed, those people need lawyers, and there's more bankruptcies and divorces to make up for slower areas. Of course the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and as it turns out if your clients have less money they can't pay you as much, and it's not all that simple to go from a deals practice to bankruptcy, or a T&E shop to divorce. There are some industries worse than law during a recession, and some areas of law are counter-cyclical, but whatever resistance the law has to recessions is pretty minimal.
But while the law may not resist recessions well, the number of older lawyers still in the work force indicates that law may be recovery resistant. Baby booms are rare, but recessions? They happen frequently enough that if the legal industry gets any worse at recovering, it might not move fast enough to be back on its feet before the next one hits.