Forget the fact that this involves something that has been discussed at length, if not ad nauseam. The idea is new to the incoming president of the Amerian Bar Association, and therefore, well, new. So what if others have pondered, discussed, argued about it for years before it came onto the radar of the very important officials who think of themselves as Leaders.
Via the ABA Journal:
Accepting the presidential gavel today at the gathering of the ABA House of Delegates, new ABA President James Silkenat of New York laid out a series of initiatives he intends to push during his term, which runs through next year’s ABA Annual Meeting in August 2014.
In what may turn out to be Silkenat’s signature project, he discussed the joining of two pressing issues for the legal profession: access to justice and the dearth of jobs for newly minted lawyers.
On the bright side, Silkenat isn’t blaming kid lawyers for being too stupid to realize that they just blew a hundred grand on a worthless education, thus distinguishing himself from his predecessor. Indeed, some might consider Silkenat’s recognition that there are problems as a huge step forward.
On the dark side, a bit of effort might have clued Silkenat in to some of the problems with his Menckian solution to two very difficult problems. First, that these “newly minted lawyers” are required to start paying back their student loans six months after graduation. Plus, they probably want to eat, maybe buy big boy shoes and will need a tie if they’re to go to court.
Second, that these same newly minted lawyers are only lawyers in the nominal sense, still in need of a bit of seasoning before being let loose to wreak havoc on society. This notion is so obvious that even the Puddle picked up on it, because the poor have enough problems already without being used as lab rats for the baby lawyer experiment.
But the ABA appears not to have considered any of this. What seems patently obvious, and the subject of so much thoughtful and concerned discussion, eludes the very important officials who have reached the pinnacle of grocery clerk success by their bar association titles. How is this possible?
The answer may be found, inadvertently, in a comment to the ABA Journal’s blurb on Silkenat’s earth-shattering initiative:
Co-chair of the Task Force? Very impressive. And as you sit on the co-chair throne of your task force, you would welcome comments and suggestions? From, like, nobody lawyers who aren’t important enough to be on official ABA committees? Ah, your liege. You are so good and kind to the insignificant, the unworthy.
Or perhaps a better reaction might be for the incoming President of the ABA, assuming he wants to make this his “signature project” so they build statues of him and the minstrels will sing songs of how he saved a generation of baby lawyers and the poor, downtrodden and lawyerless, to urge the members of the Task Force for the creation of the Legal Access Jobs Corps to get off their ample butts and find out what the blawgosphere has been discussing and pondering for years already.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate that Silkenat is concerned with matters that he, and the ABA, should be concerned about. Indeed, it’s a step forward, even if about five years behind, ahem, others. But the attitude reflected in the Tanenbaum comment, as if they are doing the legal profession a favor by their willingness to consider the insignificant “suggestions” of the groundlings who haven’t been elevated to Grand Poobah of the ABA, sucks.
It is astounding that the ABA appears to be utterly unaware that it is so far behind the curve, so completely out of touch with both the problems and the efforts at solutions, and yet so grandiose in its self-importance that it would deign to consider the ideas of the supplicants who would come before it. What the hell has happened to the legal profession to make these lawyers think themselves so important?
The problems on Silkenat’s radar are real, for both the “newly minted lawyers” who struggle with the very real burden of how to pay off their loans, and for the wide swathe of the public who can’t afford competent legal representation. And they are real every day, even if the ABA figures they can wait until their task force reports back at the 2014 mid-year meeting.
If the ABA wants to be relevant, or even play a role in fixing these problems, then it’s time to climb down from the mount and get in the trenches with the rest of us. It’s not that we’re unwilling to help, but we’re not inclined to kiss your ring either. Sorry, guys, but being the Grand Poobah of the ABA just isn’t that special, and finally coming to the realization that there are monumental problems out there that others have been grappling with for years isn’t nearly as impressive as you think it is.