by Conor Friedersdorf
The New York Times chronicles the terrible job prospects at big law firms. I feel for this year's graduates, especially folks like this guy:
After he lost his job as a television reporter two years ago, Derek Fanciullo considered law school, thinking it was a historically sure bet. He took out “a ferocious amount of debt,” he said $210,000, to be exact and enrolled last September in the School of Law at New York University.
“It was thought to be this green pasture of stability, a more comfortable life,” said Mr. Fanciullo, who had heard that 90 percent of N.Y.U. law graduates land jobs at firms, and counted on that to repay his loans. “It was almost written in stone that you’ll end up in a law firm, almost like a birthright.”
Despite my empathy for people whose plans were ruined by changing economic circumstances, however, I cannot help but think that overall the decline of big law firms is a great thing for society. It is perverse that every year America sends thousands of its brightest young people to be paid six figures to pore over discovery documents in lawsuits between big corporations. The billable hour is itself an absurd method for determining the price tag of legal services in many situations where it is used.