||RE: The Problem with the Legal Profession
||11:01 pm EST, Feb 11, 2007
Good stuff here in your response. Thanks for your thoughfulness on what I was saying.
Here is what I agree with you in your response, coupled with some observations:
1) I should hope that you aren't going to tell me all trademark enforcement is reasonable.
Of course you are right here. As in any system, it is pushed to its extremes. The better question is not whether firms are pushing it or if the laws are broken that get us there. This is what happens when you have undereducated (on the subject) congressmen putting this stuff together.
2) Frankly, given what I do, I am comparing this to advanced degrees in basic science and engineering, which you don't have to pay for, or management and economics, which are expensive, but don't have the same sort of lifestyle associated with them upon graduation with the exception of the crazy world of business consulting firms.
I agree, you bastards in the science field have had it easy for far too long! :)
Basically, at this point, there are grad school degrees and there are prof. degrees. Lawyers and doctors work their asses off. Business school grads are beginning to face a similar fate-- the value of an MBA is quickly dropping to the point where the only people making real money with it are those in a big consulting firm. It's only benefit-- two years, rather than three. $35k saved there.
Now, some things that I believe I can provide some insight on:
3) The point I'm making is that I don't understand why some law firms can't pay less and expect less (in terms of hours, not quality) and hire more people. The economics are similar, and my understanding of the sort of work typical junior associates perform is not really difficult enough to require a degree from harvard.
Here's the thing: the economics don't work out. I have seen this firsthand. You don't make as much money with more associates and less hours. Reasons: overhead. More staff to support them, more physical space needed for them, you have to pay their health insurance, and other benefits. All of those things go directly toward partner profits. Partner profits are regularly reported in the legal press and directly affect your ability to get top talent (read: large portfolios of business) in partners and top talent out of law schools.
The most profitable firms in the world require 2400 billable hours a year and will fire you if you don't make it. But if you do, they will pay you $160,000 as a first year and give you five-figure bonuses. Read abovethelaw.com and law.com for more details on the big firms.
That said, you don't *have to* go to a big firm. There is literally every size in between. I have a friend who just went from a multi-thousand attorney firm to a three-person firm. My dad has been in-house at multiple countries and in private practice at several firms. There are many paths.
4. The question I'm trying to answer for myself is whether those... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]
RE: The Problem with the Legal Profession
||RE: The Problem with the Legal Profession
|| 1:45 pm EST, Feb 11, 2007
Frankly, I am a bit disappointed by the unwarranted attacks and slights against my profession, and more so, against my particular practice area found in this stream.
As a person whose letters have ended up on Chilling Effects, I ask that you consider that there may be more to how the world works than you might read in one article (or any number of them).
And as a person who did not get a large firm job right out of a top-tier school, who has huge amounts of student loan debt, and yet was able to make my way into one of the top five largest firms in the world, and don't feel like I "pray [sic] on fear," I take some exception to your comments.
Let me break it down (like this).
Being a lawyer (much like life) is what you make it. There are limitless specialties, practice areas and types of jobs you can take. Not everyone is a litigator, who apparently "win in court not because they are right, but because their counsel is more persuasive for bad reasons." There are innumerable other things you can do as an attorney.
(Indeed, rarely does anyone win in court because they are "persuasive for bad reasons." Either you are indicting the jury system because you feel your fellow citizens are too dumb to come to a rational decision, or you are blaming the winning party for winning because they had a better reasoned argument. It rarely comes down, in court, to pedigree. Many of the best and most famous litigators went to lower-tier schools.)
That said, you have identified a primary rub.
If you go to law school, like any other professional school, you have to pay for it. Thus, you have to actually take a job that pays money in order to pay it back. And when it comes down to it, law school, per year, is no more expensive than any other degree (that you actually have to pay for).
As a result, you can't simply become an "officer of the court" for free, just because you want to serve for the betterment of mankind as a public interest attorney. Not unless money is no object.
Thus, you have to take a job to pay your bills. Sound familiar? The easy route to get out from your crushing debt, as it turns out, is to take a higher paying job. And, if you can believe it, employers who pay a higher amount, don't do it out of the graciousness of their heart! They make you work (read: bill) more hours.
So, you end up in a situation where students are fighting for the higher paying jobs, in the higher paying markets, and it becomes an employers market. Thus, they can demand the people from the best schools.
Is there truly no difference in the quality of education between a top-ranked school and a third tier school? Is that why you went to such a terrible engineering school? (That's sarcasm, before I get flamed.) That said, don't get me wrong, I have met a lot of dumbasses from Harvard Law, and I have met a lot of people who came from lower-ranked schools who were intelligent, hard-working, a... [ Read More (0.7k in body) ]
RE: The Problem with the Legal Profession
||Intelligent Design Might Be Meeting Its Maker
|| 4:06 pm EST, Dec 5, 2005
Thank you New York Times. Jesus, it's about time for this article to come out.
The truth of the matter is that ID isn't supported by science. It *is* a political issue and it *is* a religious issue. And one supported only by a relatively narrow religious viewpoint too.
John G. West, a political scientist and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, the main organization supporting intelligent design, said the skepticism and outright antagonism are evidence that the scientific "fundamentalists" are threatened by its arguments.
"This is natural anytime you have a new controversial idea," Mr. West said. "The first stage is people ignore you. Then, when they can't ignore you, comes the hysteria. Then the idea that was so radical becomes accepted. I'd say we're in the hysteria phase."
"The future of intelligent design, as far as I'm concerned, has very little to do with the outcome of the Dover case," Mr. West said. "The future of intelligent design is tied up with academic endeavors. It rises or falls on the science."
This guy's pretty savvy, because he knows that if you make your opponents look unhinged, you undercut their credibility. It's good politics. But then, if the scientific community is hysterical, it's because there are actually people claiming to be scientists working as hard as possible to destroy the very notion of science. That makes me angry too. But that doesn't mean i'm unable to make a rational argument. I'd like to think he's right about his last statement, because it works to the advantage of the scientific standpoint. This segment from earlier in the article is very telling :
The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.
"They never came in," said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.
"From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don't come out very well in our world of scientific review," he said.
That says an awful lot to me. You keep hearing about the "science" behind ID, but I don't see it being produced. Here's an organization who's dedicated to reconciling science with religion *asking* to spend money on this research. But no, nothing. So the claim that the liberal academic elite have been blocking ID from the journals falls a little flat. If the science was there, someone could have published it by now.
But that's not the point is it. Mr. West's claims not withstanding, this issue has almost nothing to do with teaching science or doing science. It's a fron... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]
Intelligent Design Might Be Meeting Its Maker
||RE: The politics of taxation
|| 7:59 pm EST, Nov 21, 2005
ryan is the supernicety wrote:
How exactly are tort lawsuits impacting individual's freedom?
In general, situations where a company cannot allow me to do something that I want to do in the context of their services, or they cannot offer a product at all, because I cannot agree to take responsibility for myself.
For example, I cannot learn to scuba dive because I have athsma. Now, I understand my athsma very well and I am perfectly capable of dealing with an attack in such a scenario, but no one will teach me, because they fear liability.
Another example that occurs to me is Kinder Toys. An Italian candy available in 100 countries but not in the U.S. According to the linked article this is a regulatory issue rather then a product liability issue, but the lines are thin here. Even if these regulations were removed the toys in question would likely face civil liability problems.
The problem here is that this stuff operates on a lowest denominator principal in which everyone must be protected from anything that might defile the most hapless of citizens. Some of the things I'm protected from I don't really want or need to be protected from, and I don't have a choice. These aren't always caused specifically by civil liability. There are criminal laws that come into play as well, and its not always easy to tell the difference between something you can't do because of a law or something you can't do because of civil liability.
I do think that these things are visibile to regular people in their everyday lives, and thats why arguements about "tort reform" get traction with voters. There is a sense, when the local punk venue has to shut down for a month to make their bathrooms wheelchair accessible, when the local antique store has to put a big orange "watch your step" sign in the middle of their nice asthetic hallway, when you can't buy a beer after 11:30, and you can't practice golf in a public park, or buy a bicycle with the handlebars higher the the rider's head, that we might just be a little too coddled. Now only one thing I listed there is really related to civil liability. But this is why this kind of issue gets traction. People preceive that "lawyers" are responsible for all of this, one way or the other.
Sure, "lawyers" are involved because all of regulation involves the law. As you said, only one thing on your wohle list involved something that would be covered by so-called 'tort reform,' and I actually can't figure out which one that would be. But by lumping people's hatred of all things 'lawyery' into one thing, its total obfuscation and supports the point that its all just politics. And if its all just politics, then its money.
Saying that people support tort reform because "lawyers are responsible for all of this" is like hating bus drivers because your flight is always delayed...
Tort reform is an issue (non-issue?) that I am interested in politically. Large tort awards are extraordinarily rare and most punitive damages go to the state (hence why they are punitive). Punishing the lawyers who bring such suits is simply political payback.
And yes, while I agree that there is a symbiosis between the trial lawyers and dems (as you argued), the simple matter is that objectively, in this case, I happen to believe that the trial lawyers are right and thus, to fight against them (and, in fact support the rights of the corporation against the individual), the repubs are wrong, morally and factually, on this issue.
RE: The politics of taxation
||Yahoo! News - White House Spends $18M on Medicare Ad
|| 4:40 pm EDT, May 5, 2004
] The Bush administration is spending $18 million on a new
] round of taxpayer-funded television advertising to
] promote the Medicare discount drug card, the Medicare
] administrator said Tuesday.
So id this an $18 million dollar ad to try to get people to vote for the shrubbery or is it $18 million dollars that could be spent on something practical, like maybe a medicare system that doesn't suck?
And oh yeah... this is the benefit plan that it was said would "only" cost $400 billion, whenthey hid numbers saying $500+ billion, and it is only covering about 7 million out of 41 million people eligible?
Wait... does that mean if everyone signs up it costs $3 trillion???
[ As far as i can tell it means "fuck off, no coverage for you" for the vast majority of people.
400 billion, 500 billion, what's the difference? Dammit stop distracting us from the real issues. You're going to be gassed in your sleep by Osama if you question medicare. Why do you hate america so much?
Mars, bitches! -k]
Yahoo! News - White House Spends $18M on Medicare Ad
||RE: Bush photomosaic of American dead in Iraq
|| 2:33 pm EDT, Apr 7, 2004
] inignoct wrote:
] ] If Bush is going to use the good job he's done in Iraq as a
] ] campaign strategy, then it's only fair to remind people that
] ] there are a lot of dead americans to account for, not to
] ] mention the dead Iraqis, who we speak little of. Sometimes
] ] that reminder needs to be harsh to get the attention it
] ] deserves... people tune out numbers, they tune out
] ] statistics, they acclimate and stop paying attention to the
] ] endless parade of dead and wounded. If this sort of thing
] ] wake them up to the reality of the situation then the
] ] it serves tends to validate it.
] Um, last I checked, the War in Iraq, and the number of dead,
] has been getting *enormous* attention. This isn't a
] backburner issue that people need to be woken up to, this is
] an issue that's already on every single front page.
] I agree with Decius.
Ryan: That may be true; however, what doesn't get enough attention in my view is the administrations attempt to elude responsibility for it. People need to wake up and realize what has happened. It's like the bumper sticker says: If you aren't infuriated, you aren't paying attention.
It is reprehensible to me that the conservative commentators require we avoid talking about the needlessness of this war when the soldiers are in harms way without reailzing that the reason we (the anti-war folks) believe the war was needless BECAUSE of the human cost involved here. And while I didn't post this photo as the end-all be-all of political commentary (that's what the 30 political analysis blogs I read are for), I do believe inignoct's points are entirely valid.
RE: Bush photomosaic of American dead in Iraq
||The unemployment statistics the government doesn't want you to see...
|| 3:06 pm EST, Mar 31, 2004
] The number of unemployed workers (currently 8.2 million)
] and the national unemployment rate of 5.6% in February
] 2004 do not adequately convey the true labor slack in the
] economy for several reasons. One major understatement is
] that the unemployment rate does not reflect the uniquely
] large 1.2% decline in labor force participation that has
] occurred since the current recession began in early 2001.
] This decline represents a stark contrast to the past
] three business cycles, when labor force participation
] actually grew by an average of 0.4% of the working-age
] population over similar lengths of time. Consequently,
] there is what can be called a "missing labor force" of
] 2,808,000 workers who might otherwise be in the actual
] labor force but have either dropped out entirely or
] failed to enter the labor market because of the lack of
] jobs. If the unemployment rate in February 2004 took into
] account this missing labor force, the unemployment rate
] would have been 7.4%, or 1.8% greater than the official
] rate of 5.6% (see chart below).
Here is someone publishing unemployment statistics which include the data about the contraction of the total labor force.
The unemployment statistics the government doesn't want you to see...
||RE: Blog for Democracy: SB-500 Update
|| 1:40 pm EST, Mar 15, 2004
] ] SB 500, the bill to require all electronic voting
] ] machines in Georgia to produce a permanent paper record,
] ] has passed out of the committee! To gain passage of
] ] SB-500 in this 2004 session, the bill now requires
] ] immediate action by the Senate Rules committee, the body
] ] responsible for putting legislation on the debate
] ] calendar for the Senate floor. Again, your calls and
] ] emails can tip the balance.
] While this is exciting, I also have my misgivings. Clearly the
] electronic elections systems have security problems. We still
] aren't addressing them. We still aren't talking about auditing
] our policies and practices.
] What we are doing instead is attaching a second system on to
] the side which offers paper ballots as a check.
] I'm worried that what we've hatched here is a worst of both
] worlds solution where a logistically difficult, inaccurate,
] and insecure paper ballot system is tacked onto an insecure
] and failure prone electronic system which still has no
] Security isn't about technology so much as its about how that
] technology is used. We're not even talking about addressing
] This is a product of the fact that elections administrators
] have been almost totally unwilling to engage in a constructive
] dialog about these problems, preferring instead to play
] political spin zone with it and thereby eliminating any
] credibility they might have had.
] While this is a political victory for those who are concerned
] about this problem, if you think its an ideal solution you've
] drunk the koolaid.
Ryan: While that may be the case, the sitation is this: the election is in November. There is not enough time to put another system in effect. Our only hope is to get some kind of backup accountability (which we DO NOT have right now) or to scrap the system altogether. I think that for now, this is the only solution we have. We continue to fight the fight for accountability in the system itself once the election is over.
RE: Blog for Democracy: SB-500 Update
||Blog for Democracy: SB-500 Update
|| 8:11 am EST, Mar 15, 2004
] SB 500, the bill to require all electronic voting
] machines in Georgia to produce a permanent paper record,
] has passed out of the committee! To gain passage of
] SB-500 in this 2004 session, the bill now requires
] immediate action by the Senate Rules committee, the body
] responsible for putting legislation on the debate
] calendar for the Senate floor. Again, your calls and
] emails can tip the balance.
] Any parties who are interested in seeing this legislation
] passed (ie, any and all voters with a basic understanding
] of computer technology and/or standard accounting
] practices) are again urged to lobby, call, write, fax or
] email our Georgia representatives and members of the
] Senate Rules committee from now through Tuesday, March
] 16, with their [succinct] comments in support of this
] important VVPB bill. The list of committee members and
] their contact information links can be found here.
] This bill must pass the full Senate by the 33rd day of
] the 40 day session, the "crossover" day, in order to be
] debated and passed in the house, and subsequently signed
] into law by the Governor.
Blog for Democracy: SB-500 Update
||11:28 am EST, Mar 14, 2004
] For days now, the job at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County
] has been to follow the order from the White House through
] the Secret Service and down to the park workers:
] "The president's feet are not to touch the dirt."
] So all yesterday, large crews drawn from all county parks
] worked to ensure that, as always in his life, George
] Bush's feet do not touch the ground when he appears in
] the big park today.
Newsday.com - My News