A noble profession is facing its defining moment. From law schools to the prestigious firms that represent the pinnacle of a legal career, a crisis is unfolding. News headlines tell part of the story—the growing oversupply of new lawyers, widespread career dissatisfaction, and spectacular implosions of pre-eminent law firms. Yet eager hordes of bright young people continue to step over each other as they seek jobs with high rates of depression, life-consuming hours, and little assurance of financial stability. The Great Recession has only worsened these trends, but correction is possible and, now, imperative.
In The Lawyer Bubble, Steven J. Harper reveals how a culture of short-term thinking has blinded some of the nation’s finest minds to the long-run implications of their actions. Law school deans have ceded independent judgment to flawed U.S. News & World Report rankings criteria in the quest to maximize immediate results. Senior partners in the nation’s large law firms have focused on current profits to enhance American Lawyer rankings and individual wealth at great cost to their institutions. Yet, wiser decisions—being honest about the legal job market, revisiting the financial incentives currently driving bad behavior, eliminating the billable hour model, and more—can take the profession to a better place.
A devastating indictment of the greed, shortsightedness, and dishonesty that now permeate the legal profession, this insider account is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how things went so wrong and how the profession can right itself once again.