Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession

Hardcover | May 28, 2015

byBenjamin H. Barton

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The hits keep coming for the American legal profession. Law schools are churning out too many graduates, depressing wages, and constricting the hiring market. Big Law firms are crumbling, as the relentless pursuit of profits corrodes their core business model. Modern technology can now handleroutine legal tasks like drafting incorporation papers and wills, reducing the need to hire lawyers; tort reform and other regulations on litigation have had the same effect. As in all areas of today's economy, there are some big winners; the rest struggle to find work, or decide to leave the fieldaltogether, which leaves fewer options for consumers who cannot afford to pay for Big Law.It would be easy to look at these enormous challenges and see only a bleak future, but Ben Barton instead sees cause for optimism. Taking the long view, from the legal Wild West of the mid-nineteenth century to the post-lawyer bubble society of the future, he offers a close analysis of the legalmarket to predict how lawyerly creativity and entrepreneurialism can save the profession. In every seemingly negative development, there is an upside. The trend towards depressed wages and computerized legal work is good for middle class consumers who have not been able to afford a lawyer for years.The surfeit of law school students will correct itself as the law becomes a less attractive and lucrative profession. As Big Law shrinks, so will the pernicious influence of billable hours, which incentivize lawyers to spend as long as possible on every task, rather than seeking efficiency andeconomy. Lawyers will devote their time to work that is much more challenging and meaningful. None of this will happen without serious upheaval, but all of it will ultimately restore the health of the faltering profession.A unique contribution to our understanding of the legal crisis, the unconventional wisdom of Glass Half Full gives cause for hope in what appears to be a hopeless situation.

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The hits keep coming for the American legal profession. Law schools are churning out too many graduates, depressing wages, and constricting the hiring market. Big Law firms are crumbling, as the relentless pursuit of profits corrodes their core business model. Modern technology can now handleroutine legal tasks like drafting incorporat...

Benjamin Barton is the Helen and Charles Lockett Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee. His scholarship ranges from bias in the judiciary, to the backgrounds of Supreme Court Justices, to libertarianism in the world of Harry Potter. His scholarship has been covered in Time Magazine, the New York Times, Wall Stre...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:May 28, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190205563

ISBN - 13:9780190205560

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Table of Contents

1. IntroductionPART I - THE MARKET FOR LAWYERS2. Birth, Death, Rebirth, Near Death - American Lawyers from 1776-19503. From Boom, to Two Professions, to Big Law's Fall - American Lawyers from 1950-Present4. Death from Above - Big Law Stumbles5. LegalZoom and Death from Below6. Death From the State - Tort Reform, Judicial Hostility, and Budget Cuts7. Death from the Side - More Lawyers Fight for Slices of a Smaller PiePART II - LAW SCHOOLS8. A Brief History of American Law Schools9. The Bleak Present and Near Future for Law SchoolsPART III - BIG PICTURE AND THE GLASS HALF FULL10. Big Picture and Parallels11. The Good News for American Consumers12. The Profession and Law Schools that Emerge Will be Stronger and BetterConclusion