There are many businesses out there, and sometimes we forget that education and selling degrees is also a business field and it will continue whether attorneys are getting paid well or not, or whether they find jobs or not, as long as there is a demand by people to become attorneys. I read an excellent article in the New York Times, headlined, “Is Law School a Losing Game?” recently and it basically had professors of the various Law Schools admitting that the figures are manipulated.
Those figures are the most important ones – how many of their students find jobs afterwards, and what their average earnings are. For example, they admitted that as long as a law student found a job waiting tables, that counted as a job and they would then indicate to all potential law students that that is one of the people who successfully found a job after going through Law School. Of course, you can quite easily become a waiter, as I was when I was a student, without studying in the first place. On this basis they manage to now indicate that 93% of all American law graduates are working, but they are not necessarily working as lawyers. To quote the article, “Number–fudging games are pandemic, Professors and Deans say, because the fortunes of Law Schools rise and fall on rankings, with reputations and huge sums of money hanging in the balance. You may think as Law Schools as training grounds for new lawyers, but that is just part of it. They are also cash cows … So much money flows into Law Schools, that Law Professors are among the highest paid in academia, and Law Schools that are part of Universities often subsidise the money-losing fields of higher education.” It never ceases to amaze me, while one in South Africa witnesses, on a yearly basis, the legal profession come under more and more threat, how the number of people studying for legal degrees only increases.
In a few years’ time, there will be a record number of lawyers chasing what is probably the smallest amount of work ever available for lawyers in this country. In England, they have now allowed supermarkets to hire lawyers and to have, if they want, a lawyer sitting in the entrance of the shop dishing out general advice, and I will not be surprised if that is the way that many, who actually get jobs in law, will work in a decade or so in South Africa also. The system is simply feeding too many lawyers into an economy and field with reducing work and at least one lawyer, who I knew who could not find sufficient work to make it in private practice, has now become a lecturer at a Law School.