A lovely editorial in the New York Post showed a total lack of understanding about the problems faced by lawyers and recent law grads. I want you guys to see it, because sometimes it’s easy for lawyers to forget just how much the outside world hates them.

And make no mistake, the outside world hates lawyers. But the New York Post is able to add an extra helping of disgust toward legal practitioners. The editorial mocks the idea of helping unemployed lawyers.

Maybe if more prospective law students knew how much everybody else dislikes them, there would actually be fewer unemployed lawyers walking around in need of help….

Here’s the aid to lawyers that the Post objects to:

New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman convened a special panel last week to find ways to expand services for the poor. This provided a platform for one of his top lieutenants to advocate for — are you ready for this? — poor lawyers.

Or, at least, unemployed lawyers.

Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Michael Coccoma wants to put them all on the public, um, payroll.

With so many law-school grads out of work, Coccoma asked last week, “Why can’t we develop funding streams and programs which would provide an opportunity for these attorneys … [to provide] legal services for the poor?”

Coccoma’s plan would let new grads give a little and get student-loan forgiveness in return. “This is an idea which I believe you should consider recommending to the Legislature to appropriate funding for,” he said.

It’s an inescapable truth: if you want lawyers who work for poor clients, you have to find somebody to pay those lawyers, or you have to make becoming a lawyer cost less. It’s really not a hard economic concept to understand.

Well, unless you write for the New York Post:

Actually, it’s an idea that’s a bit of a headscratcher, given the current state of the New York fisc.

And if the new kids at the bar can’t find work, maybe that’s a message from the market: New York has enough lawyers already — and maybe too many.

According to the American Bar Association, the state’s already lousy with ’em, with more attorneys outright than any other state and double the national per-capita average.

Maybe some should go chase ambulances elsewhere.

Certainly the last thing New Yorkers need is to put them on welfare — and pay off their student loans to boot.

Oh, ha ha, an ambulance chaser joke! Maybe the ambulances could lead them right into… New Jersey.

Look, obviously I agree with the notion that we need fewer lawyers. But as long as we’re criticizing lawyers who need “welfare,” can’t we also criticize the law schools that put them in the poor house to begin with?

You want to attack the problem of too many lawyers? Attack the institutions that make them, not the people who are just trying to make a living during the worst recession we’ve seen in decades.

Sure, the Post wants to turn this issue into a screed about the misappropriation of tax dollars. But the people who are actually making money off of this oversupply, the law schools that pump out as many unemployable lawyers as they can fit through the doors — they get a pass.

But you know how it goes: blame the ambulance chasers, not the people who cause accidents.

Aid to indigent lawyers [New York Post]


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