Challenges Facing The Legal Profession In Connecticut

In my opinion:

(the order is random)

1.  There are too many lawyers.

2.  There is a growing gap among lawyers in terms of experience, efficiency, judgement and professionalism.  

3.  Too many young lawyers are not being socialized into the profession.  They are being left on their own to learn how to practice law in accordance with the highest standards of the profession. Exceptions are young lawyers fortunate enough to work for firms in which they receive training from experienced mentors.

4.  There is a large number of aging lawyers for whom the practice of law has changed so significantly that they are being overwhelmed by competitive pressure and unfamiliarity with technology.  Too many have no plan for how and when they will retire.  

5.  A significant number of lawyers have health problems that affect their ability to practice law responsibly and reliably. Health problems include depression, achohol and drug abuse and gambling addictions.  The resources for helping lawyers with such problems are inadequate.

6.  Too many lawyers and small firms are not proficient in law office management, an increasingly important aspect of the practice of law.

7.  Law schools historically have had little interest in training students to practice law.  On a day to day basis the needs of the profession and the interests of the academy are worlds apart.

8.  The legal system, i.e. the court system, has not adapted to modern times.  Trial judges, like doctors, are being evaluated and rewarded on the basis of quantity rather than quality.  Just as the insurance industry has reduced the practice of medicine to a numbingly long list of codes for things and procedures as if doctors were not treating patients but rather were working on an assembly line, so too has the legal system forced judges to “move cases” regardless of whether the pressure to move cases causes hardship and injustice to the parties.

9.  The bench and bar, which once enjoyed a cooperative relationship, are now estranged and resentful of each other.  There are exceptions, but they are exceptions.  Each blames the other for problems created by the number of cases and for the massive inefficiencies in the legal system.  If lawyers billed their clients accurately and descriptively so that a client’s bill told the story of a case, including the amount of time lawyers sat and waited, reading the paper until their turn in court came up, and if judges began to penalize lawyers whose careless or unethical conduct increased the cost of the case to litigants, progress could be made.

10.  The whole concept of “the legal profession” is at risk.   There has long been talk about the profession of law having to become more business-like yet remain a profession.  The case can now be made law is primarily a business.  The business model has not won yet, but its influence is steadily growing.