In the past week, Carolyn Elefant wrote a post at My Shingle promoting the idea of new lawyers charging $99 per hour, and then a second addressing some of the criticism of the idea. At its core, her point was that it’s better to make a barely livable wage than starve.
Short term survival matters, even if it comes at the expense of longer term concerns. It’s not that the idea is a good one, but rather that a young lawyer who earns enough to survive today has a chance to do better tomorrow. If he doesn’t survive, then what difference does the future make?
But the mindset behind survival isn’t limited to lawyers. It’s become the American way, and it repeats itself in almost every aspect of the fabric of our lives. Consider that a poll found that 30% of Americans are willing to undergo TSA cavity searches if it means survival. Forget, for the moment, that survival for lawyers is hard economic fact, while survival for airplane travelers is a product of mindless fear. To the person who believes, it’s real.
Via Turley :
A few years ago, the idea that we would eventually reach the point of cavity searches was something of a joke. Not so funny anymore, is it?
The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Infowars from November 5-7 among 2059 American adults. People were asked: “Given the recent reports concerning the threat posed by terrorists who plan to implant bombs within their own bodies, how willing, if at all, would you be to undergo a TSA body cavity search in order to fly?” Thirty percent said yes.
There are various groups of Freedom Lovers and Tyranny Fighters who send me emails about their view of this country and their notions to change it. For the most part, things like jury nullification, trust in their fellow countrymen and the coming revolution against the oligarchy make up their dreams of a brighter future.
They’re well-intended, but sadly mistaken. Their fellow countrymen will be the first to throw them to the lions for their own self-interest. It’s heart-warming to read of their hope and faith in humanity, but they tend not to spend much time watching what people are up to. It’s not that they are mean or horrible people, but they aren’t prepared to sacrifice their own interests for the sake of others.
And if that means that give in to their fears, believe what the government is selling and are prepared to pull down their knickers for safety, so be it. You see, you can’t worry about such ethereal concepts as liberty and freedom if your body is blown into a million pieces by a terrorist bomb. Survival first.
And if their survival happens to give away some of your rights, causing the sound of snapping latex to be heard throughout airports across this nation, that’s the price of being an American, land of the free and home of the brave. Well, at least home of the people who weren’t blown up by a butt-bomb.
Carolyn’s argument in favor of $99 per hour fees is a tiny piece of a larger puzzle being sold on the shoulders of a declining legal economy, giving rise to fear. Much of the fear is justified, and those who use it to bootstrap ideas that have superficial appeal into the “new normal” without any basis for their predictions of doom without it, or that it solves the economic problems plaguing the profession, have a ready audience of hungry and desperate lawyers looking for anything that offers a promise of survival.
Over the past week, Jordan Furlong at Law21 has been posting daily about the “evolution of the legal services market.” On the one hand, Jordan is a very smart guy, usually obscured by his reliance on jargon and insipid verbiage in his writing. On the other hand, Jordan’s predictions invariably invoke false allegations of fact and take huge leaps of reason to get to where he wants to go. They sound reasonable to the unwary, but can’t withstand scrutiny. And yet, he’s made a name for himself as a legal futurist, and scared lawyers embrace him.
The recurring themes, whether in the legal profession’s willingness to try anything to survive or the public’s willingness to let a guy who worked at Dairy Queen last week stick his finger up their anus in the name of survival, are apparent. Turley speaks of a nation whose expectations are being constantly reduced, to the point were we will accept pretty much any degradation with resignation.
The law has become like that too. And if lawyers are ready to accept the $99 solution, we can hardly be relied upon to defend the rights, freedoms and liberties of society. If that’s the case, then we’re not even worth the $99 per hour. If the downward spiral of expectations, desperation and resignation doesn’t change with lawyers, then there isn’t much hope that anyone else will lift a finger to do anything about it.
Hear that sound? That’s the sound of latex snapping. It sounds just like counting to 99.