This fantastic NYT story provides the best look inside the law school business we have ever seen. It explains a lot. Including why lawyers seem so money hungry – they have huge student loans to pay off – and why so many non-law fields have become so predatory – they’re been inundated by displaced lawyers taught to zealously advocate for their clients and ignore their own misgivings about them.
The bottom line is that when we graduate more lawyers than the legal profession needs, the excess wind up going into other fields, like business, where their legal acumen comes in handy. Unfortunately, they also take their adversarial training with them.
The legal model says that if each lawyer in a two-sided conflict zealously advocates for their interests, and only their interests, justice will be done. Of course applying that empathy-less attitude to business may be one of the reasons so many publicly traded companies are now doing anything and everything to boost short-term profit growth, including behavior a reasonable person could find treasonous.
Who serves as the balancing adversarial lawyer and the judge in the corporate arena?
Federal regulators, who were already undermanned and over-matched before they were neutered by lobbyists?
There is no countervailing force. There is no effective check and balance. And that’s why we’re seeing problems. It’s a race to the bottom where standards are set by the worst actors and the rest have to emulate them to compete for investment dollars.