Here's a letter I got recently from a New York lawyer. (When reading this, keep in mind that New York's top court decided recently to impose a mandatory pro bono requirement on people seeking admission to the New York bar).
Prof. Campos,I wonder what Chief Judge (and career government bureaucrat) Jonathan Lippman, author of the mandatory pro bono requirement, would think about the last line of that letter? According to Lippman, J., "if you want the privilege and honor of practicing law in New York, you're going to have to demonstrate that you're committed to our values." And what again are those exactly, your Honor?
Today, I had an amusing experience with our state bar. I work in New York City on a variety of weird jobs that I find as a new solo wandering blindly, representing lots of misdemeanor defendants. This week, I got a job drafting entertainment contracts and demand letters for an adult film director as a sort of makeshift "in-house" counsel (don't ask). The regular assignments from this new business relationship, even though outside of my regular field of practice, will allow me to stop being enrolled in Medicaid for the first time since I started law school.So, as someone who lives with in-laws and still qualifies for Medicaid, I called the New York State Bar Association to apply for tuition assistance. After filling out a detailed form and answering many questions during a phone call that made me feel humiliated, the state bar only gave me $50 off of the $300-$500 it will cost for me to complete this year's CLE requirements. I will have to spend the same amount of money next year, as I will not qualify for the online video stuff at the cheap rates until after two years.So, the bar forces us to pay $750 a year just to stay in good standing and charges another $300-$500 a year for classes taught by lawyers picking money for speaking fees and the products they sell (computer programs, legal forms, strategy books, blah blah). The state bar pretends to offer help to new lawyers in six-figure debt, but this is just a scam as well.This issue may seem somewhat small or inconsequential when compared to the rest of the law school scam, but I find it representative of the larger problem of an out-of-touch generation adding more financial burden to those who cannot bear it. Interestingly, my husband thinks that this is all by design to keep competition, especially from solo practitioners, to a minimum by pricing them out.Bottom line: in New York State, I qualify for Medicaid, but I do not qualify for even one free CLE seminar.
Jobs update: Nationally, the legal sector lost 1,400 jobs between July and August.