October 5, 2009

Scalia "worr[ies] that we are devoting too many of our very best minds to [law]."

You're a smart kid. Do you really want to be a lawyer?
I mean lawyers, after all, don’t produce anything. They enable other people to produce and to go on with their lives efficiently and in an atmosphere of freedom. That’s important, but it doesn’t put food on the table and there have to be other people who are doing that....

And they appear here in the Court, I mean, even the ones who will only argue here once and will never come again. I’m usually impressed with how good they are. Sometimes you get one who’s not so good. But, no, by and large I don’t have any complaint about the quality of counsel, except maybe we’re wasting some of our best minds.
Scalia wonders why you aren't out "inventing the automobile or, you know, doing something productive for this society?"

89 comments:

rhhardin said...

A town that can't support one lawyer can support two.

MadisonMan said...

Present company excepted? I hope he added that to get a laugh.

TRO said...

Such a simple answer - it's a different kind of smart.

Leland said...

You're a smart kid. Do you really want to be a lawyer?

And please don't waste your talents becoming a Wall Street mathematician, eh?

wv: prowl Seriously.

Original Mike said...

I couldn't agree with him more. Sorry, but it's how I feel.

Jason (the commenter) said...

My plan is to socialize law like they are trying to socialize medicine. All lawyers can be paid the same as public defenders and chosen at random from pools for cases. Freelance lawyers would not be legally allowed to do anything or accept payment for services.

Problem solved.

The Drill SGT said...

Don't care much for lawyers, my hostess and wife excepted :)

Rick Lee said...

There are so many women in law school these days... in the bad old days when women were only allowed to do certain things, all of those top minds were becoming schoolteachers and we had really good quality teachers. Now we have mediocre teachers and a lot of great women lawyers and doctors. You can't blame people for going where the money is. Our society pays lawyers a lot more than even engineers who do the hard stuff that makes everything around us work.

AJ Lynch said...

Didn't Michele Obama recommend something like this a while ago?


wv= whaftwor [name of the farting scene in the movie Search Of The Holy Grail?]

muddimo said...

I agree with Scalia, HOWEVER, there is a reason why "smart kids" choose law, namely, $$$. I worked in science for many years before switching to law. Turns out they don't pay chemists or biologists all that much. It's not like your working in retail but its not great either. Teaching? You've got to be kidding, unless you plan to get a PhD so that you can find a university position. So, you can either spend 3 short years in law school or 5-8 in grad school, plus internships in some disciplines. What to do.

Bob_R said...

I'm confused. I thought this was the day for noticing how stupid the "soft side" of the intelligentsia is. First Yglesias not having the attention span for a long book. Then Moore and Althouse recoiling in fear and horror at page of solutions for a simple partial differential equation. Now we're told that these people are smart enough to do something other than study law. Not in evidence.

Chase said...

Quite possibly the best words ever uttered by a Supreme Court Justice.

muddimo said...

your working => you're working


wv: ansetor = your alien ancestor

AJ Lynch said...

RRhardin:

More doctors per capita is one reason why Medicare spends like 50%more per covered person in Miami than it spends in Minnesota.

Seven Machos said...

I recommend legal education to everyone. I view it as sort of what the bachelor's degree used to be before the proliferation of majors and dilution of standards.

Then, go do something else. Because practicing law sucks, man.

I am not qualified to be a law professor, though that sounds fun. Supreme Court gig sounds good, too. I could do that. I am available, Mr. President.

Brian O'Connell said...

Since the FTC has instituted vague and "case-by-case" regulations on the public, we're probably all going to need lawyers just to post anything online. So this fits right in.

Revenant said...

I mean lawyers, after all, don’t produce anything. They enable other people to produce and to go on with their lives efficiently and in an atmosphere of freedom.

A person who enables another person to produce, IS producing. They are producing productivity. The notion that you aren't producing anything unless you can point to a widget and say "I personally made that" is one of the more persistent economic fallacies in modern life.

Cedarford said...

In other lawyer-related news, a gay, black lawyer - dressed in robes - showed he could use innovative new methods to "counsel black thugs".

A former judge is facing life in prison after being charged with sexually abusing male inmates in exchange for leniency.

Respected circuit judge Herman Thomas, who was once the Democratic Party’s choice to be the first black federal judge in south Alabama, is accused of bringing inmates to his office and spanking them with a paddle.

His trial for charges of sodomy, kidnapping, sex abuse, extortion, assault and ethics violations is set to begin today.

The 48-year-old insists he is innocent and claims he was trying to mentor the inmates.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk


Naturally, the local NAACP charged his arrest was "racist".

=================
Not too much new on the gay Jewish cop in West Hollywood Florida under indictment for "sticking it to black thugs".

Naturally, the local Florida NAACP charged the cop was "racist".

Pastafarian said...

I can't think of who it was, but some early economist stated that the only really productive members of society were in agriculture, mining, lumber, and manufacturing; and that all others were parasites.

That might be a bit harsh or sweeping for some vitally important occupations, like transport or medicine; but lawyers are purely leaches on the ass of American society.

One big reason for having a constitutional government was the fact that anyone who could read could look at this plainly worded document and know what the law is. Lawyers have twisted the law into their own partial differential equation, for no reason other than to ensure their own value as keepers of the secret meaning and knowers of the dark art.

Slow Joe said...

revenant, that doesn't apply generally, even if it applies in a couple of cases.

Lawyers do not make efficiency as well as accountants and engineers already do without lawyers. They create fear which creates safety, and they created a lot of great things hundreds of years ago which our world needed.

But... scalia isn't saying we shouldn't have lawyers. he's saying our most brilliant minds would give our society a lot more if they were not lawyers. We still would have John Edwards style lawsuits... we'd still have DAs and Defence counsel.

The best lawyers have minds that are very similar to engineer minds. Former engineers do better in law school than poli sci or philsophy majors. Putting complex rules together takes a special mind, whether it's the rules of physics or the laws of states and nations.

I think Scalia has a point. If the top half of lawyers had become chemists and engineers, the world would simply be a better place.

Those saying they are different minds are completely wrong.

Pastafarian said...

Revenant: Were it not for lawyers creating overly complex laws in the first place, I would have no need of lawyers to produce my widgets. They're no better than organized-crime extortionists.

What percentage of legislators have had law degrees? 90%?

Sure, we'd always need a few lawyers; but if things weren't set up to ensure that someone's going to be sued for something every 3 seconds, and that trials last months and years, then we wouldn't need the unbelievable number of lawyers that we have, that the directly productive sector of the economy has to support.

Ron said...

You're a smart kid. Do you really want to be a lawyer?

"No, yer honor, I want to blog about lawyers! Please click my Amazon link!"

And that whole productivity issue goes away!

Slow Joe said...

Looking at Sarbanes Oxley and other regulations, it's pretty clear that lawyers create more inefficiency and waste than they *presently* create order.

We need some lawyers, but their contributions to our lives are often and largely negative right now. And if we had fewer, I think things would improve.

Capt. Schmoe said...

Scalia's statement actually falls short. Not only do lawyers not produce anything, often they impede the production of anything. Don't get me wrong, there is a need, just not a need for so many.

The times I have needed a lawyer, it was because a lawyer had a need. A need to create litigation.

Pastafarian said...

I love that word "widget", by the way. Pure condescension to manufacturing. "You little cobblers in your 'factories' doing your filthy work cranking out widgets."

Seven Machos said...

Interesting to read Joe's comment, then Pasta's.

Joe is right: society would be better served if the people who graduate at the top of their law school classes were to have pursued other vocations. The middle of the pack can handle all law just fine.

Pasta is also right: a large majority of legislators have law degrees. I would suggest that they tend to come from the bottom of their law school classes, though. Thus, the bad law.

traditionalguy said...

The brain drain going into Blogging these days may be a more serious societal problem than brainiacs doing easy lawyer work.

Stan said...

As a lawyer, I have come to believe that lawyers are now, on balance, a net negative for our society. Lots of good done by lawyers, but probably outweighed by the bad. If the line on the graph hasn't reached the negative yet, it is very clearly trending down.

And this is not to say that most lawyers are unethical or have bad intentions. I just think the incentives currently in the system are such that even if every lawyer was honest and working hard for his clients, the overall impact of the legal system would be trending toward making US society worse on the whole.

And of course, every lawyer isn't honest (see e.g. the numerous recent scandals in the plaintiffs bar).

Triangle Man said...

More doctors per capita is one reason why Medicare spends like 50%more per covered person in Miami than it spends in Minnesota.

That, and rampant Medicare fraud.

Bissage said...

The worst thing about those lawyers is the way they put a gun to your head and threaten to kill you if you don’t agree to their fee schedule.

The Drill SGT said...

Rick Lee said...
in the bad old days when women were only allowed to do certain things, all of those top minds were becoming schoolteachers and we had really good quality teachers.


My mom was a 19 t/o college grad school teacher.

You left off, nurse, the other pre-lib career peak for women

Doc Merlin said...

This is a stupid question.
1) The answer is easy, lawyers have /all/ the power in society.
It doesn't matter how great the auto you invent is, but some lawyer (often one in congress) will tell you exactly how you are allowed to build it and to what specifications. They will tell you who is allowed to work to actually manufacture the car, etc etc.

I don't really see why this is even a serious question; I thought Scalia was smarter than that. Lawyers of some type tell every single other profession what to do.
2) Also as law gets more and more complex, the demand for lawyers will rise. This is a fact of life, most law, particularly regulatory law is so convoluted it takes many lawyers to understand,

Bissage said...

I knew a guy in law school who was a mechanical engineer. I asked him why he was switching professions. He said, “I’m tired of getting laid off.”

Slow Joe said...

Bissage, I'm not sure what you mean, but perhaps you mean that when you are sued, and you must acquire an attorney to defend yourself, the fees are very high and you feel compelled to pay them so that your business survives? And that huge corporations are able to squash individuals and small businesses unfairly because of this basic way of things?

If so, then you have a good point. It is way too expensive to deal with frivolous or simply minor lawsuits. I can sue my landlord for a silly reason, and he might be better off giving me $1000 than using the legal system.

I would love to see a poll of people who have seen a Wayne Wright commercial in the last 30 minutes vs those who haven't about their opinion of the bar.

That said, the best (moral) people I know are attorneys. The funniest, warmest, smartest people. I love lawyers. But there are too many.

Slow Joe said...

bissage, I was replying to your comment about 'gun to the head', btw.

David53 said...

Re Revenant:

A person who enables another person to shit, IS shitting. They are shitting shit. The notion that you aren't shitting anything unless you can point to a turd and say "I personally made that" is one of the more persistent economic fallacies in modern life.

Now go have a Guinness and STFU.

Paddy O. said...

Some posts are just a setup for a Trooper York comment.

Scalia's comment was in my head when I decided not to go to law school after graduating college, and after having done rather good on the LSATs.

A couple of years later I ended up, oddly enough, in seminary instead. Then kept on going in theology studies.

I'm still hit on occasion by how not "productive" it is, but it's another way to use thinking skills, and in a way that, at its best, helps others be more hopeful, find comfort, and lead to a participatory life. Helping encourage men and women in the deepest part of human questioning rather than staying confused. The military seems to see chaplains as productive in this way, at least. Though, for far too many in theology and ministry Scalia's advice is probably appropriate.

But, there are certainly days I wish there was this "thing" I had made and sold at the end of a long stretch of work.

Marc said...

Isn't it ironic that the lawyer Scalia chose to highlight for his insipid comment is one who does the most to help people in need, for minimal pay? He did not choose to unload on Ted Olson, I note.

chickenlittle said...

Three comments:

(1) The rise of Asia and the Indian subcontinent will slow the rate of scientists & engineers entering this country and thus depressing salaries.

(2) The same rise will create demand for scientists and engineers in this country, making those fields more attractive. I think it's already happening, for younger ones at least.

(3) The whole "problem" can be traced to that demographic bulge called the babyboom.

Original Mike said...

A person who enables another person to produce, IS producing.

You would think, but it hasn't worked out that way. I guess because the law had devolved from being an enabler to being an impediment.

Chip Ahoy said...

recoiling in fear and horror Ha ha ha. That one killed me.

c3 said...

MUST RESIST TEMPTATION TO QUOTE LAWYER JOKE. MUST RESIST...

1jpb said...

"unless you can point to a turd and say "I personally made that""

you may not be titus.

save_the_rustbelt said...

70 - 80% of lawyers are having trouble making a good living, high expenses and too much competition.

Not every lawyer works on Wall Street or K Street.

Closing 1/3 of law schools would be a good start to balancing supply and demand.

Eric said...

If so, then you have a good point. It is way too expensive to deal with frivolous or simply minor lawsuits. I can sue my landlord for a silly reason, and he might be better off giving me $1000 than using the legal system.

I've never understood why judges are so loath to throw out obviously stupid cases. That in itself would go a long way toward reducing the overall cost of litigation.

A "loser pays" system would be even better, but I doubt we'll have that as long as it's legal to shovel money at Congress.

Matthias said...

In an attempt at self-flattery, I like to consider myself a bright individual. I'm a programmer and sometime entrepreneur and I have seriously thought about actually going to law school (I already has a Master's degree) simply so that I have the knowledge and expertise to avoid getting bullied by opportunistic lawyers in the course of trying to run my business.

That is how bad our litigious culture has gotten...

Matthias said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedarford said...

I really hate the senior citizen parasite who is spokeswomen for those ubiquitous "Scooter Store" ads.

"I didn't pay a penny out of pocket for my Power Chair! Between insurance and my Medicare, they paid for it all!"

Later, the ad said that medicare also pays for free delivery, free onsite servicing by dedicated Scooter technicians, new batteries..and medicare covers it all!!

Triangle Man said...
More doctors per capita is one reason why Medicare spends like 50%more per covered person in Miami than it spends in Minnesota.
That, and rampant Medicare fraud.


Amid news that "Scooter Store" deluxe chairs for the really fat and elderly, not means tested, cost 4,000 dollars. But the same sort of chairs cost 1,000 at a medical supply place.

miller said...

You can never be too thin, too rich, or have too few lawyers. I forget who said that, but it was probably Dorothy Parker.

Paul Chiari said...

I have worked in software most of my life and many companies have gone offshore to places like India because of a resource shortage here in the. Sadly, the U.S. education system turns out more lawyers per year than the rest of the world combined. Perhaps we wouldn't need India for software engineering if the universities turned out engineers.

Larry J said...

Stan said...
As a lawyer, I have come to believe that lawyers are now, on balance, a net negative for our society. Lots of good done by lawyers, but probably outweighed by the bad. If the line on the graph hasn't reached the negative yet, it is very clearly trending down.


As a non-lawyer engineer, I came to the same conclusion about 25 years ago. By and large, the legal profession is a net drain on society. It does far more harm than good.

Sadly, the U.S. education system turns out more lawyers per year than the rest of the world combined.

I remember reading years ago there are more lawyers in a major US city (NYC or DC) than in all of Japan. At the same time, US is locating as much business as possible overseas. While the general rule of statistics is correlation does not automatically imply causality, I don't think it's a coincidence.

Oligonicella said...

Paul Chiari --

"I have worked in software most of my life and many companies have gone offshore to places like India because of a resource shortage here in the."

Me too. Thirty-five years.

There is no IT resource shortage here. They simply cost more that a buck a day, like the Indian conterparts.

Oligonicella said...

As for what lawyers do: I sold my old house to my next doo neighbor. We drew up a simple, half-page contract in plain English. She fretted and took it to her lawyer to see if it was legal. He started inserting obscure language and conditions that were not part of our agreement. On both parties. She returned home, tore up what he did and bought the house with our original.

She was out $200 for that hour of useless obfuscation.

Larry J said...

Actually, to call lawyers parasites is kind of unfair to parasites. In nature, most parasites don't kill the host. Most lawyers don't care if the host (society) dies so long as they get their fee. But then, "99% of the lawyers make the rest of them look bad."

Methadras said...

I understand what Scalia is saying. However he is looking at it from the outside in because that's his only reference point of view. As a working (thankfully) mechanical engineer I see this problem from the inside out. Universities in the US are not producing enough engineers and the reason why is very simple. Comparatively speaking becoming a lawyer is much easier than becoming an engineer. Also, the earnings to work ratio is also in favor of lawyers. Engineers are the unsung heroes on this earth. We produce things that people use as products in all sorts of industries, from Althouse's pen that she writes grades on, to the internet, to the car, to anything tangible that makes our lives easier to deal with and engineer and design machinery to make other things with. We also get no glory, no thanks, and very little recognition (outside of the industry. Hell, even within the industry) and we take all the horseshit when things don't go well. If a lawyer loses, oh well, he/she can appeal to fight on another day. As an engineer we don't have that luxury.

There are smart lawyers and there are engineers who've become lawyers and vise versa, but that's very rare. While there is a glut of lawyers, engineers are an endangered species. Pay is dropping, work hours are increasing, timelines and schedules are shrinking. The constant fear of lay-off is in an engineers mind instead of concentrating on producing great things that he will never get any recognition for. Can any of you name the engineers that worked on the iPhone? How about the latest TV you are watching? But you can name some lawyers and many of you can name athletes, but outside of the famous inventor/engineers like Franklin, Bell, Ford, Tesla, and a couple of others I'm forgetting at the moment, that's it. China and India produce hundreds of thousands of engineers per year. However, like the products they mass produce, they do the same thing with their human capital. Many of them are sub-standard in their practice, but they have enough bodies to make up for it, but the US can never compete on producing the numbers of engineers that these countries do. However, these countries can't produce the quality of engineers that we do.

I know many engineers that tell their kids to stay away from engineering for the reasons I stated above and when you look at which professions get glamorized, you can easily see why. Look at the makeup of television shows and their scenarios based on occupations. Doctors, Lawyers, Cops, Firemen, Politicians, and the occasional show about Executives and their drama and that's what a lot of this generation is gravitating to. Being an engineer is something you love and want to do, not for the money or the glory, but because you treat it as a hobby you get paid to do. Bean counters and lawyers don't see it that way. You just end up becoming a high end pencil that produces nothing but revenue generating product that they pray never become a liability, but you pay for that too.

Methadras said...

Oligonicella said...

As for what lawyers do: I sold my old house to my next doo neighbor. We drew up a simple, half-page contract in plain English. She fretted and took it to her lawyer to see if it was legal. He started inserting obscure language and conditions that were not part of our agreement. On both parties. She returned home, tore up what he did and bought the house with our original.

She was out $200 for that hour of useless obfuscation.


If the Constitution can be written in non-legalese english, so can a buy/sell contract. I'm so in favor of common english tort. OUT WITH LEGALESE!!!

Methadras said...

Seven Machos said...

I am not qualified to be a law professor, though that sounds fun. Supreme Court gig sounds good, too. I could do that. I am available, Mr. President.


Oh, planning on being a wise latina, huh?

Eric said...

Perhaps we wouldn't need India for software engineering if the universities turned out engineers.

You're putting the cart before the horse. The universities are having trouble filling up the slots they have available. They can't get American kids interested in engineering because of outsourcing and the H1-B program. That's just the self-preservation instinct at work.

Is it any wonder young people want to be lawyers and investment bankers? I've been in EE and software for 20 years myself, and I wouldn't choose anything technical if I were starting over. It just doesn't make sense.

Methadras said...

Slow Joe said...

Looking at Sarbanes Oxley and other regulations, it's pretty clear that lawyers create more inefficiency and waste than they *presently* create order.

We need some lawyers, but their contributions to our lives are often and largely negative right now. And if we had fewer, I think things would improve.


You've never read McCain-Feingold or NAFTA have you. For shame. :D

traditionalguy said...

Oligonicella...Only do business with safe people who are honest, not mentally ill, have good memories and will swear to their own hurt rather than lie, understood everything the first time from experience in the past and never change their minds after you are committed. No problem and no lawyers needed except to do simple closing documents for the tranasaction. But try that 10 times and you will find that it is like playing russian roulette with one bullet in 6 chambers, but when you spin it 10 times all bets are off. In fact in the safe people arena you described we can also fire the Police and the Military with no fear.

Methadras said...

Cedarford said...

I really hate the senior citizen parasite who is spokeswomen for those ubiquitous "Scooter Store" ads.

"I didn't pay a penny out of pocket for my Power Chair! Between insurance and my Medicare, they paid for it all!"

Later, the ad said that medicare also pays for free delivery, free onsite servicing by dedicated Scooter technicians, new batteries..and medicare covers it all!!

Triangle Man said...
More doctors per capita is one reason why Medicare spends like 50%more per covered person in Miami than it spends in Minnesota.
That, and rampant Medicare fraud.

Amid news that "Scooter Store" deluxe chairs for the really fat and elderly, not means tested, cost 4,000 dollars. But the same sort of chairs cost 1,000 at a medical supply place.


HAHA!!! I hate those commercials. I just want to run into the tv and tip that bitch over and say, "You've fallen and can't get up. Where is your scooter store now, bitch!"

Frankly, I want to know what ailment these little bastards have in those commercials that makes the unable to walk. They look pretty able-bodied to me. Also, I've been seeing what appears to be able bodied seniors and people in general sporting around on these scooters. Bastards!!!

traditionalguy said...

No one can blame lawyers for Sarbanes-Oxley which was a political shakedown by the Senators who were jealous to see fraud going on that they could not get a piece of the action from.

Lem said...

According to Dr Lawler.. a retired engineer and professor at Manhattan college "An Engineer can do anything".

No irony or joking when he would said it either.

kathleen said...

I think in the very near future this won't be so much of a problem. There will be very many unemployed lawyers. and bankers.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

signed, an erstwhile attorney

1jpb said...

All the Es coming out of the woodwork. Solidarity.

Your bro,
1ChemE

Revenant said...

revenant, that doesn't apply generally, even if it applies in a couple of cases. Lawyers do not make efficiency as well as accountants and engineers already do without lawyers.

I wasn't defending the idea that lawyers create efficiency. I was responding to Scalia's attempt to treat "people who produce" and "people who enable others to produce" as separate groups. The statement "X does not produce anything, it enables others to produce" is incorrect on its face. Whether or not it is actually TRUE that X enables others to produce is a separate issue. :)

I have no firm opinion on the net effect of the legal profession on efficiency.

Methadras said...

Lem said...

According to Dr Lawler.. a retired engineer and professor at Manhattan college "An Engineer can do anything".

No irony or joking when he would said it either.


Yes We Can!

Tari said...

As an attorney I wholeheartedly agree with Justice Scalia. Far too many people go into law (and banking, consulting, etc) because they're too afraid to get their hands dirty doing something real. That is one of the reasons prcaticing law doesn't make me very happy; but then again, it does pay my mortgage.

Dudley Do-right said...

I agree with Scalia, Original Mike, and Tari. There are much better uses for these good minds.

But the big bucks beckon. It explains why the best mathematicians end up on Wall Street and why the best minds end up in court. It's almost as if the U.S. is competing with one hand tied behind its back.

Of course, if people were brought up to value useful contribution over making big money, the problem would be smaller. Mothers....your absence (or is it your values?) is (are) being felt.

David said...

Scalia used to say much the same thing when I was a student at UVA Law and he taught there in the 1960's. However it worked out pretty will for him, didn't it?

Cedarford said...

Larry J. - Sadly, the U.S. education system turns out more lawyers per year than the rest of the world combined.

I remember reading years ago there are more lawyers in a major US city (NYC or DC) than in all of Japan. At the same time, US is locating as much business as possible overseas. While the general rule of statistics is correlation does not automatically imply causality, I don't think it's a coincidence.


I read that only Israel exceeds America in per capita lawyer rates in their citizens. Presumably, that also includes Israelis attending US law schools and hoping to set up shop here.

1jpb said...

Cedarford,

I just checked, the Jews (Israelis) have 3.5 docs per thousand folks. It seems that this is many more that we have in the States.

Not sure how this can be rolled into something nefarious, but the floor is yours.

wv: dised close enough to dissed

chuck b. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chuck b. said...

What the America needs is for more people to start their own businesses. Be your own boss. Sell your own product.

We need there to be financial incentives for that, and we need our culture to teach the values required for being independent, self-sufficient contributors.

chuck b. said...

(I don't know where that leaves the introverts.)

montana urban legend said...

So the mind of a lawyer and the mind of an engineer are interchangeable?

wv: velocki

Freeman Hunt said...

Almost all of the smartest people I knew in school went into the sciences.

montana urban legend said...

I just checked, the Jews (Israelis) have 3.5 docs per thousand folks. It seems that this is many more that we have in the States.

Not true, but my reckoning.

But for shits and giggles, check it out here on this handy device.

It was linked by the evil Andy Sullilvan but it's still cool.

Uncle Pinky said...

Cedarford:

I read that only Israel exceeds America in per capita lawyer rates in their citizens.

Seeing as all Israeli citizens are also soldiers, that would indicate that they have an actual (useful), backup skill, whereas many or most young Americans have none.

1jpb said...

MUL,

I didn't spend a lot of time looking that stuff--less than a minute w/ the google.

I was aiming to facetiously duplicate Cedarford's peculiar and deranged fixation w/ everything being tied to Jewish folks, as he had just demonstrated regarding lawyers in Israel.

But, I will note that the link you provided seemed to provide the percentage of the US work force in each field. But, of course, the work force is much smaller than the total population of the US (especially now). So converting that percentage of doc workers to docs/1000folks may result in a number similar to what I found, I think it was a bit below 3 docs per thousand folks in the US.

Anyway, that's a great link.

careen said...

Thank God someone said it - and Scalia to boot. I haven't been able to sufficiently explain what "creating value" actually means to my loved ones - that you cannot solve the country's problems by sending everyone to law school so they'll all be upper middle class- you actually need an economy to support all those attorneys.

I would quibble that attorneys no longer necessarily enable people to live efficiently - that many long ago went the way of derivatives and sit around creating fiendish ways to make $$$ for themselves by creating waves/resistance and inefficiency - then riding the energy of that and pulling out the bucks.

My sister is the dreaded housewife-attorney. If you even think of opening a business in her neighborhood and taking up space (or using pesticides on your lawn), she'll file all kinds of motions in between yoga class and trips to the pottery studio.

kentuckyliz said...

The main job of the human race is to perpetuate itself. So the only real producers are the babymakers. Everything else is just support work and parasitic.

/snark

Pogo said...

Scalia's Howl

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by law school,
suing unwary engineers,
dragging themselves through the kudzu of regulations at dawn
looking for an angry consumer,
pinheaded lawyers burning
for the ancient constitutional connection
to the judicial lottery in the machinery of law

rdkraus said...

Um, I made this exact argument yesterday in the post about math.

Just sayin.

Larry J said...

I read that only Israel exceeds America in per capita lawyer rates in their citizens. Presumably, that also includes Israelis attending US law schools and hoping to set up shop here.

Several years ago, it was announced that the US had a million lawyers. If that was correct, it's probably higher now. Do we really need about 1 out of every 300 people in the country to be a lawyer? Take away the kids and the retirees and you have a US workforce of perhaps 150 million people. Do we really need 1 out of every 150 working people in America to be a lawyer?

You want to know why things are getting so screwed up, you can start there. Lawyers as a whole don't produce anything. They work to insert themselves into every level of society at great expense with little added value. Over 20 years ago, Tom Peters (the author of "In Search of Excellence") wrote a column tracing the decline of American industry to the ascendency of MBAs. He made some interesting points. However, I think the real decline of American industry began with the rise of lawyers at every aspect of society.

rdkraus said...

It's easy to bash lawyers, and some of the points will be valid. But that mostly misses the point.

Which is, that so many of our citizens go into professions, or jobs, that pay well, but don't really add wealth to our society.

Here's a different example. CPA's, who are largely quite intelligent and would be capable of many other activities, and the time they spend on tax returns, tax loopholes, tax avoidance, tax litigation/negotiation, etc. None of that creates real wealth (ie. goods and services that people need and want). It just involves trying to give less to the government, which we know creates no wealth.

Much of what goes on on Wall Street and in the financial industry involves moving the pieces around, without creating anything new. These people also make a lot of money. To a great extent, they don't create anything more than lawyers do (no need to tell me that much of what they do is also necessary - I know that).

former law student said...

many companies have gone offshore to places like India because of a resource shortage here in the [US]

Howls of derisive laughter, Bruce. Employers do not value engineering work enough to pay competitive rates. My former employer paid the lowliest lawyers as much as they paid their most talented engineers. (In fairness, they also paid their lowliest engineers as much as they paid their most talented accountants.)

As well as paying Indian software writers a fraction of what it costs Americans to live decently, the transfer of manufacturing to the Third World has also taken many good engineering jobs with it: process engineer, product engineer, quality engineer, equipment engineer, etc. etc.

In contrast, a couple needing a divorce, or wanting to adopt a child, are not going to Sri Lanka for their legal advisor.

former law student said...

I sold my old house to my next doo neighbor. We drew up a simple, half-page contract in plain English. She fretted and took it to her lawyer to see if it was legal. He started inserting obscure language and conditions that were not part of our agreement. On both parties.

There are many pitfalls in buying and selling houses of which most people are blissfully ignorant, and which that lawyer was probably trying to protect you from.

Where I live, however, you can use a standard form contract provided by the realty board, and just fill in the blanks.

Cato Renasci said...

To the extent lawyers are part of a legal system that, by a system of enforcing contracts, makes commerce possible by reducing uncertainty and transactions costs (think if you had to do everything with armed guards and cash on the barrelhead....), they are productive...

But, I take the point that at some point the complexity of the law increases transaction costs and ceases to be productive....