An Homage To The Dead and Dying

Judge Richard Kopf does his listicle of observations of criminal defense lawyers based on his 25 years on the bench. Spoiler alert: he likes us, with some caveats. So if you heed his admonitions, will you achieve success, world hegemony maybe, or at least the probability of a comfortable middle-class existence as a successful and highly-competent criminal defense lawyer.

Yeah, well, maybe, but maybe not.

In a guest post that will bring a cringe to your face, Carolyn Elefant posts a marketeer’s brutally insipid crap which, per the blind squirrel theory, includes this paragraph.

The numbers don’t lie in terms of what’s going on in the legal profession. In December of 2006 the U.S. legal services sector employed 1,161,400 people[i]. By December of 2016 that number was down to 1,126,100[ii]. So in ten years the profession lost 35,300 jobs. Guess what else the profession did during that time? It added 198,594 attorneys[iii]. Laws get changed all the time but those two pesky rules, known as supply and demand, haven’t changed. A big reduction in jobs, combined with a big increase in the labor supply, results in a lot of attorneys singing a sad song. Oh……by the way, the legal profession lost roughly another 1,000 jobs in the first two months of 2017.

He’s right. You’re not alone. Cases are drying up. Money is drying up. Bills are piling up. Marketeers are spamming you constantly with pitches for their pointless gimmicks that will “save you valuable time” so you can squeeze in another game of spider solitaire before heading out to have your chai latte and share your feelings of pain at being disrespected.

In the meantime, the ABA, captured by progressive academics, wants to pull your ticket if you use the wrong pronoun, while demanding that lawyers ignore their student debt service to provide pro bono services so their children don’t starve while yours do.

In the next decade, the number of lawyers who’ve tried a case will hit 2%, while the number of lawyers who advertise that they’re “new and improved” and love you some winning hits an all-time high. They will crank out forms with fill in the blanks because they can’t afford to give a client the seven minutes it takes to do it right, but it won’t be that big a deal since the maligned client can’t find you as you’re nothing more than a virtual presence on the interwebz, taking paypal fees so a web company can glom its 4% of the legal services market.

But little of this will really matter, since the smart kidz have long abandoned law as a lousy deal, and the plethora of law schools desperately trying to fill empty seats to pay scholars’ salaries so they can write important articles furthering their political agenda by lying about the law thrive off government guaranteed student loans to assure minorities will get to take the bar they won’t pass.

So go forth, criminal defense lawyers. Be the best you can be. I’m sure it will all work out, while the deeply passionate go to war over where transgender folks pee and the horrors of being an undocumented immigrant in a nation that refuses to pay for counsel for citizens accused of crimes.

Have a nice day.


25 thoughts on “An Homage To The Dead and Dying

      1. Jim Tyre

        Regardless of the specific percentage, are there reliable stats that show how, if at all, the percentage has changed in the last, say, 20 years? The number of lawyers I know from roughly my generation who’ve never tried a case far exceeds the number who have.

        (I so love how Carolyn’s guest blogger, an individual, thanks her for allowing “us” to guest blog.)

      1. Billy Bob

        Smart kidz stay home and play video games on mommy’s sofa-couch. Adventurous kidz climb El Capitain without safety. The greedy ones go to busyness school and then Wall St. Aggressive ones go into the military. Talented kidz go into film, pop music or the theatre. What’s left for the profession to draw from? The lazy ones, the bored and the dullards!
        Incidentally, what’s the difference between a lawyer and an attorney? I still do not get it I mean,
        an auto mechanic is an auto mechanic (technician maybe?) And a dachter is a dachter, and don’t the door hit you on the way out. (Surgeon maybe?)

        1. SHG Post author

          This is why you had so much trouble finding someplace that would take you on to fulfill your community service obligation.

          1. Billy Bob

            I’m a communist hiding behind Cato Instituitional libertarian garb. We perform community service, even if not mandated or required by the authorities. (However, seldom “recorded”.) When mandated or required, we abstain and decline the invitation–at our own peril?!? We help ourselves by helping others. That is our motto here in progressive-liberal land of the freeloaders and home of the Brave New World.
            Oh Hi, Aldous Huxley, I did not see you standing there! Is that George Orwell behind the curtain there? Are you a couple?
            P.S., We perform community service every time we wake up in the morning! It does not take too long. It is a wonderful life, as they say in the movies.

  1. Richard G. Kopf


    You are far too optimistic. You see a glass half full. Indeed, it is.

    Not to go all Andres Serrano on you, but the glass contains deeply yellow and foul smelling urine. All the best.


    PS I AM having a nice day, thank you!

    1. SHG Post author

      I sometimes wonder how many lawyers keep tabs on the dots that comprise the legal ecosystem and recognize the inherent conflicts of the myriad Utopian solutions. But then I take a look at that half full glass and wonder why I bother pointing it out when everyone else is enjoying a drink. And yet, here I am, still trying to save us from ourselves. Bottoms up!

      1. John Barleycorn

        Now, now…esteemed one don’t you worry!

        Ecosystems come and go, just look at the one you lawyers created.

        Besides, sooner or later you are gonna have to get your head around the fact that geological obstacles neferaiously “set in stone” eventually devoure themselves.

        Jökulhlaup surfing could still be a thing. Don’t be late to the party…

        P.S. One of these days someone is gonna give the Robed Rider a Rolex when he “quits”. What the heck is he gonna do then? Cheers!

        1. SHG Post author

          Rolexes are for kidz. He gets a Patek.

          Hey, when you sending me a watch? Lord knows I deserve one from you.

          1. John Barleycorn

            Relax, I’m working on it…

            Comming up with an appropertly kaleidoscopingly cogent inscription that is concise enough, as not to overwhelm canvas is proving to be a unique quandry.

  2. Marc R

    The ABA Legal Rebels section shows me that I can have a paperless office, wear t shirts, do pro bono trial work, fear yet mandate I put everything on the cloud for my clients to see and discuss with me, and that I have bad parents for squandering the baby boom into the current legal ecosystem we have today. But most kids these days don’t want to buy houses, have cars, become CEOs or have families; they just want to suck the teat of their parents who could pay full college tuition with a parttime job waiting tables and then get hired from a Hoftra or Fordham law school into a partner-track job. Those lazy kids! But, to be fair, the ABA isn’t relevant to real lawyers. Does anyone pay ABA dues after state, federal, appeals court membership fees that actually have court systems to go with their fees?


    SHG, regarding your 2% estimate of lawyers with any type of jury trial experience (civil or criminal), the following may be of interest.

    In recent years, the number of lawyers who have had a jury trial in a federal criminal case is vanishingly small. The trend line has been steep and downward.

    Judge Rakoff tells us that in 1980 19% of all federal defendants had a jury trial, by 2000 the number of federal criminal trials fell below 6%, and by 2010 the number fell below 3%. See JS Rakoff, Why innocent people plead guilty, The New York Review of Books (November 20, 2014), available at

    If fewer and fewer federal criminal cases are tried to juries it stands to reason that fewer and fewer lawyers will have had the experience of trying such a case. Among other things, that means you can’t retire.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      I remember well when Judge Rakoff wrote that. To add to the dilemma, of the few cases actually tried, the same lawyers tend to try the cases. When times comes for trial and inexperienced defense counsel realizes he can’t try the case, we get that crazed late night phone call begging us to take over and try the case.

  4. Scott Jacobs


    If you’ll pardon me, I think I need to go start on that drinking problem the judge mentioned…

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