Dumbing Down the Legal Profession

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June 5, 2014
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Everyone should read the current article in Bloomburg Businessweek “Are Lawyers Getting Dumber?”


I have practiced proudly as a personal injury lawyer for almost forty years. I have a great respect for the vast majority of my colleagues who are well trained and do their best for each client. Each and every one has attended an accredited law school and passed the Florida Bar Exam.  I fear that economic and political forces are at work to water down the quality and accountability of lawyers.


On one hand, large law firms who do business in numerous states are tired of having their lawyers take state bar exams to prove they are qualified to practice in that state.  They want to change the rules here in Florida and around the country to do away with any state specific qualification to practice law. Each state Bar association has its own rules and exam to protect consumers in their state. This is because each state has its own laws, rules, and case law, thousands of volumes of them. Corporate Law Firms want to create a profession of “McLawyers” that they can shuffle around the country like clerks in a store.


Clearly the quality of legal advice here in Florida and everywhere will suffer. Would you rather have a lawyer defending your life or property who passed the state specific bar exam or a “McLawyer” from who knows where? So many want to move here. Many thousands of underemployed lawyers don’t come here because they would have to pass our bar exam.  Eliminate that requirement and a flood of potentially unqualified lawyers would head south to a state that already has too many lawyers.


“Too Many Lawyers” is already a problem because of the rise of for profit law schools that have been allowed by our state and others to pump out new lawyers in ever increasing numbers.  They do this even though the income of lawyers has been falling for at least 30 years and the profession has shed  50,000 jobs in 8 years. Fewer people are applying for law school.  Therefore, these numerous law schools who need to put “butts in seats” have proceeded to lower their standards. As a result, bar exam pass rates have been falling like a stone.  In one year bar pass rates dropped in Idaho by 15%  and in 6 other states by at least 9% .  According to Bloomberg, panic is sweeping the “bottom half” of law schools where as you might expect, pass rate pain is worst.


Scores on the test to get into law school, the LSAT, are falling too.  According to Ms. Moeser, quoted on page 53 “Some places are dropping their (entry) standards in hopes of stemming that tide (of falling enrollment).” (Parenthetical phrase added for clarity). Paul Camoes author of  Don’t Go To Law School (Unless) says pumping out more law graduates will only lead to more under – or unemployed lawyers. The legal profession is an old and noble profession, closely regulated by each state for the benefit and protection of its citizens. Let us not preside over a tide of less qualified “McLawyers” in our state placing profit over service to the disservice Florida citizens.



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