“I’m an attorney, and I sympathize with your frustration with California trial attorneys as displayed in one of your recent comments. Practicing law is not a profession anymore in the large cities; it’s a cutthroat business. Combine that fact of economic life with the very traits that make trial lawyers successful — aggressiveness and thick skin — and the results in California should not be surprising. Although the law schools would lose a substantial amount of profit (and law schools are tremendous cash cows for most Universities), the country would be best served by a substantial reduction in the number of available seats available for each new law school freshman class.” — Thad from Texas

This is actually an interesting idea, although one hesitates to interfere with the free market — if an extra million kids want to become lawyers, and have the brains and resources to make it through law school, so be it. One even hesitates to cut off scholarship aid, as it would be unfortunate if only rich kids could get law degrees.

The alumni of Emery Dental School did a fascinating and, I think, enlightened thing several years ago. Basically they decided that the country was producing more dentists than rotten teeth and that it would be in everyone’s interest to right that balance. So they persuaded the university — bolstered by some substantial financial support, if I remember right — to close Emery Dental School. A fine institution — coincidentally, one of the best dentists who ever drilled inside my mouth was an Emery grad — it no longer exists.

I’m not sure how you cut back law school enrollment. (Might freezing new law-school accreditations be a small start?) A large proportion of practicing lawyers actually hate their jobs, and a large proportion make much less money than people imagine — but by and large, that’s not what kids see on TV or in the movies. They see Tom Cruise reducing Jack Nicholson to blubber so that justice triumphs in A Few Good Men. Or Sandra Bullock working late with Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill. They see LA Law (at least the current crop of law students did when they were growing up) and Arnie’s Lamborghini.

OK, maybe they hear some lawyer jokes, too. But maybe, like all the badmouthing smoking gets, it just serves to make lawyering seem all the more attractive. If the lawyers didn’t have money and power, the subliminal message may read, people wouldn’t be making all these jokes about them. And I want money and power.

Maybe what we need to do is lay off the lawyer jokes and start telling schoolteacher jokes. (And having schoolteachers tell kids they think smoking is cool.)



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