Friday, April 10, 2009

How about putting together unemployed lawyers with broke clients who need legal help?

This story from today's New York Times called "In a Downturn, More Act as Their Own Lawyer" is a telling sign of how messed up the legal marketplace, and the economy in general, is right now.  Because of home foreclosures and other financial problems related to the lousy economy, many people need legal representation but simply can't afford it.  As we all know, there are thousands of highly educated, experienced lawyers walking the streets who can't find work.  Why doesn't someone put the two groups together?  The unemployed lawyers could keep their skills up, or at least it would occupy some of their unwanted spare time, while they continue to look for work and those who need legal help can get it.

I am the scholarship dude.


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But who will pay the malpractice insurance for the unemployed lawyer? For something like this to work, you'd either need an institution to provide such coverage, or some sort of "Good Samaritan" legislation exempting the lawyer from malpractice liability.

Posted by: Ken Chestek | Apr 12, 2009 8:37:44 AM

BigLaw should pay for it - they hired these lawyers through a ferociously competitive process and then spent a lot to train them - all of which means there should be little risk they'll mess up on the job which should translate into low premiums. Whatever the cost, it's a drop in the bucket for BigLaw which is already realizing substantial savings this year by delaying the start dates of '09 grads until '10. BigLaw could even utilize this year's grads to do the needed pro bono work while they wait for their delayed start dates. More importantly, BigLaw was at least a partial enabler of the current financial mess so they should help the people who are losing their homes because of it.

For very little cost, BigLaw can help the attorneys they've laid-off, help the public and score a major PR coup in the process. Brilliant!

Posted by: Jim. | Apr 13, 2009 4:19:02 PM

The New York Times today reported that Skadden Arps is offering some senior associates what amounts to a sabbatical: no work for a year but you get a third of your regular salary (in lieu of being laid off, I guess). The one-third salary amounts to around $80,000/year and you either get to travel around the world or stay at home and do pro bono work... your choice. Check it out:

Posted by: Ken Chestek | Apr 13, 2009 6:19:15 PM

Totally insane! The economy is in shambles, thousands of attorneys are out of work (let alone the hundreds of thousands of non-legal jobs losses) and Skadden says: "Here's $80k - take a year off dude!"

Only in America!

Posted by: Jim. | Apr 14, 2009 10:28:03 AM

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