Friday, October 28, 2005

Kill the laws, not the lawyers

I've heard "kill all the lawyers" jokes since I was a kid. "What do you call 100 dead lawyers? A good start." Heck, even the Eagles song "Get Over It" calls for such a cull.

I understand the source of this sentiment. There are just so many. I recently began working in Los Angeles, and at first it was so nice to see how hard working everybody was. I see many professional-looking people on the train thumbing away on their Blackberries, and talking shop on their cell phones. But then, if I eaves-drop I invariably find that they're talking about court dates, appeals, and other legal affairs.

Is this the proper preoccupation of a productive society? Do we really need such a high proportion of the smartest among us dedicated to sorting out exactly how we use the state to bully and coerce each other?

I think not, and neither, apparently, do the jocular, generally blue collar men who toss around "kill all the lawyers" jokes. They offer a humourous response to a serious problem, but there is a seriously necessary solution. Kill the laws, and the demand for lawyers will dry up. Imagine how much our economy would improve if all these people with a knack for precise writing were writing mechanical engineering literature instead of legalese: or if all these people with an aptitude for complicated systems applied their sharp minds to computer code, instead of legal code .


At 10:07 PM, Blogger Davefordemocracy said...

It would be great to see all those bright people become teachers. Lawyers ride around in Beamers, while teachers drive beaters. Too bad we don't, as a society, esteem teachers the wa we esteem lawyers. By paying them the big bucks.

At 9:38 AM, Blogger echan said...

It's not just about skill sets, but certain personality traits, as well, particularly risk adverseness. One quote that I remember from school was, "Law school is the last refuge of the liberal arts major." A lot of the types who gravitate towards law are interesting types, with varied intellectual pursuits, but who are scared of the unknown. (i.e. "Should I risk my 20s toiling in a bookstore by day, as I write the great American novel at type, only to find myself spending my 30s in obscurity?") So, they seek the stability of a legal career, and help promote risk adversion in their clients, "Don't do that, it can open you up to getting sued."

That being said, it saddens me that in the Bay Area, I feel that you can create a sprawl map based on the hierarchy of the law firm: (1) SF - established, older partners in houses, and young single associates in apartments; (2) the East Bay out to Walnut Creek and down the Peninsula - senior associates and young partners with families; and (3) Concord, Pittsburgh, Antioch, and beyond - the support staff.


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