Jan. 4 (Bloomberg Law) — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 74,000 new lawyer jobs this decade, while American law schools will produce more than 400,000 graduates. Despite those numbers, “it’s not clear to me there’s an oversupply problem at all,” says Case Western Reserve Law School Dean Lawrence Mitchell. With so many legal needs of the poor going unmet, “finding different paths for people who truly want to be lawyers opens up all sorts of possibilities” for law graduates to find jobs, he maintains.
“We’re running a business” that’s grown more expensive every year because of clinics and smaller class sizes, he tells Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia. Contrary to popular wisdom, “I don’t turn over a big chunk [of law school tuition dollars] to the university, and I’m not teaching 150 kids in a class,” he says.
Mitchell wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in late November, taking to task the many critics of legal education. “The attack on law school disregards … we’re working hard in good faith” to help students find employment, he says. “That’s why I schlep all over the country for two months every summer, like Willie Loman, talking to hiring partners at law firms trying to get my kids jobs.”
Jan. 2 (Bloomberg Law) — Attorney Irving Pinsky talks with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about the difficulties in suing gun manufacturers after the passage of a comprehensive tort reform law during the administration of President George W. Bush.
Dec. 20 (Bloomberg Law) — United States Senator Charles Grassley (R - Iowa) and Bloomberg Contributing Editor Neil Barofsky talk with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about HSBC’s recent settlement with US authorities over claims the bank engaged in money laundering for drug cartels and terrorist organizations. Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Nov. 9 (Bloomberg Law) — Kyle McEntee from Law School Transparency talks to Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about the state of legal education in America. McEntee also talks about the LST Score Reports, his organization’s new alternative to the US News & World Report Law School Rankings. McEntee hopes that the new information will help prospective law students make better decisions and “focus on the things that matter.” McEntee feels that while laws schools need to substantially reduce their enrollment, it will probably be a combination of market forces and governmental oversight that will ultimately force legal education to reform itself. McEntee is the co-founder and Executive Director of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit legal education policy organization.
Oct. 19 (Bloomberg Law) — Ralph Ferrara, partner at Proskauer Rose LLP, talks with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about the problems presented by high frequency trading and potential solutions. Ferrara says that certain policy changes made by Congress in the mid-1970’s had the effect of decentralizing financial markets and diminishing the presence of human controls over trading activity. In his opinion, the resultant market fragmentation combined with high frequency trading has led to a broken, two-tiered system that could force retail investors out of the market and fundamentally change the notion of capitalism in the United States. Ferrara served as General Counsel to the Securities & Exchange Commission from 1978 to 1981.
An increasing number of major law firms are quoting “suicide prices” just to get business that will keep their lawyers occupied, even though the firms can’t make money on the work, according to law firm consultant Bruce MacEwen.
Those firms may be training clients, like department stores have done with their customers, only to buy when prices are discounted, which could lead to more major firms going out of business, says MacEwen, who writes at Adam Smith, Esq. (http://www.adamsmithesq.com)
There are simply too many partners and associates at many firms. Adding to the firms’ economic challenges, the revenues of legal process outsourcers (LPOs) are expected to grow 85 percent in the next few years. The result is more attorney layoffs are likely ahead, he says.
Big firms have “avoided the really difficult, awkward conversations” about trimming partner ranks. But “that day is coming, because that’s where the money is,” he says.
“Most partners actually don’t understand the firm’s business. It’s not their job. They want to serve their clients. That’s why they made partner. But it presents a tremendous challenge to managing partners” in a time of economic challenges, MacEwen says.
Twenty-five years ago, average partner pay at the AmLaw 100 law firms was 11 percent higher than that of the average American worker. Today it is 23 times higher. “You cannot grow that tree to the sky forever,” says MacEwen.
“Some firms get it completely; other firms just are hoping they can hold their breath and it will be 2006 again.”
MacEwen talks with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.
Sept. 26 (Bloomberg Law) — Digital Domain, the special effects company founded by film director James Cameron, was sold out of chapter 11 in an auction that saw bids double despite having only ten days to market the company. Digital Domain made the news earlier in the year for producing a hologram of late rapper Tupac Shakur for a performance at the Coachella music festival. Bill also wonders which deceased celebrity Digital Domain will reanimate. Bill also discusses the recent decision by Chief Judge Edith Jones from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to step down from her role as chief judge.
Senator Jack Reed, Democrat from Rhode Island, talks to Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about an upcoming hearing in front of a subcommittee for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on how high speed computerized trading impacts the broader economy. Senator Reed will chair the hearing which seeks to examine the role high frequency trading systems have played in recent market disruptions such as the so-called ‘flash crash’ from May 2010, the failed BATS Gloabal Markets IPO, problems with the Facebook IPO and recent glitches plaguing trading firm Knight Capital.
Larry Eagel, partner at Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C., talks with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about how the student debt crisis has opened up new opportunities for lawyers to represent borrowers burdened by their loans. Larry recently filed a case against a loan servicer for allegedly failing to apply a debtor’s early payments on her student loans to her principal. Larry notes that while the worsening student debt problem has led to an increased interest among borrowers to bring claims against banks and servicers, it remains to be whether it will generate a significant wave of litigation.
Newspaper publisher Journal Register Company’s second trip into Chapter 11 raises real questions for Bloomberg News bankruptcy columnist Bill Rochelle whether it will survive, even if it emerges from bankruptcy court intact. He also talks to Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about the latest developments in another newspaper bankruptcy of Tribune Company and whether newspapers as an industry are likely to see more filings ahead.