How are lawyers like farmers?
Some of them get paid not to work.
We don’t want too many bushels of corn and wheat clogging the marketplace and, apparently, we also don’t want too much litigation.
Or something like that.
It’s true. In case you missed it, reports have surfaced that a whole bunch of major law firms are paying some law students as much as $80,000 per year not to work for a while until times get better and they can come to work full time.
Does this strike anyone else as rather odd?
After all, it’s not as if there won’t be a fresh crop of new lawyers next year to hire. If you can’t pay new hires full salaries now, why not simply wait until you can afford to pay the money? Will there not be enough lawyers later if you don’t put them under contract now?
And how exactly are you going to bill clients for all that work that isn’t being done?
Clearly, I’m missing something here. But since so many firms are doing it and many of them are not requiring that the new hires-in-waiting do anything in particular for the money, I thought I’d offer a few suggestions for what these lawyers can do while waiting for their careers to begin:
· Take dancing lessons. OK, that may not sound useful, but when else is a busy lawyer going to have time to learn to tango? Too many burned-out middle-aged lawyers regret the stuff they missed out on in their lives. (Think Ted Danson in “Body Heat.”)
· Become a hobo and ride the rails. This may not sound like an attractive option, but consider the rainmaking opportunities. Everywhere you go, you’ll be meeting potential class action plaintiffs offering the potential for litigation over everything from toxic exposure to the state of mental health care. You can spend the year passing out business cards and coming up with your own hobo name. (Think John Hodgman and 700 hobo names.)
· Open your own doughnut shop/fitness club. Prepare yourself psychologically for the day when you draft complex contracts that end up causing lawsuits.
· Lie on the couch, drink beer, and watch sports. This requires no explanation.
· Put the $80,000 on black in Vegas. If you win, you get a taste of your future paychecks. If you lose, get some experience in the fast food industry. It’ll prepare you for life as an associate.
There’s no reason for this time to be wasted.
SOMETIMES YOU CAN’T WIN. I never thought I’d write this, but I feel sorry for the people running the State Bar of California.
You may recall a few weeks back that I noted that the bar was in a quandary over the hotel hosting this year’s bar convention because the owner of the place helped finance Prop. 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative.
The bar leaders said something to the effect that they understood the problem and weren’t thrilled with Prop. 8, but they weren’t supposed to take political positions and they had a contract with the hotel that could they get sued over if the bar canceled.
Well maybe, but the May issue of California Bar Journal has the better part of a page filled with letters from people that are mad about either the bar doing nothing, the bar saying it would have done something if it could, and the bar even thinking about the issue.
Next time those guys should just pretend not to notice anything is going on.
How are lawyers like farmers?