On the increasing tournament structure of the legal profession:
But look deeper still and other more fundamental problems emerge. One is the increasing popularity of law school rankings. In order to compete for students and tuition dollars, law schools do what they can to improve their standing, which means in part encouraging as many students as possible to apply and to take jobs with high-paying firms when they graduate. And for any school to move up in the rankings, another needs to move down.
An even more serious problem is the way law firms keep score. One prevalent measure is PPP, or profit per partner, introduced by The American Lawyer in 1985. When such statistics began to be published, firms that thought they were doing well suddenly discovered that they were being outperformed by peers. Soon bidding wars ensued for top earners, who are sometimes referred to as “rainmakers.
Inequality is rising and employment is down:
Simply put, the law is not well. US law school applications are down by nearly half from eight years ago, and 85% of graduates now carry at least $100,000 in debt. More than 180 of the 200 US law schools are unable to find jobs for more than 80% of their graduates. Median starting salaries for those who do find work are down by 17%, and more than a third of graduates cannot find full-time employment.
Rising inequality and too much competition makes everyone more unhappy even those who "win":
Tellingly, lawyers have higher rates of depression and alcoholism than the general population.
To professionals who choose careers in fields such as law, medicine, and teaching, it is demoralizing to be treated as a unit of production. Even some of the lawyers earning millions of dollars report that they find little or no fulfillment in the work they do. In essence, by stoking the flames of competition between law firms and attorneys, the current system has engrained what economists call a “zero-sum” mentality. There is only a relatively fixed quantity of legal work to be done, and for one firm or attorney to command more of it, others must make due with less. At many big firms, just beneath a veneer of cordiality lurks a shark-like ethic of eat-or-be-eaten, winner-take-all, cut-throat competition.
Inductive skills and professional ethics are devalued while those game the system the best are rewarded and move up:
The most problematic aspect is the demotion of lawyers from professionals to mere service providers. This works to the detriment of lawyers, their clients, and society. As a professional, a lawyer represents her clients in the courtroom, in her office and at the negotiating table. She operates with an appreciation for her role in the adversarial judicial process, the need to educate clients about the limits and purpose of the law, and the importance of helping clients create frameworks to work together to form organizations, build businesses, and plan for the future. Doing these things well provides a sense of meaning and value in work.
As a mere service provider, by contrast, her role is to provide a discrete technical service—usually assumed to be the same as any other lawyer would provide—for a fee. Her success is measured not in the professional insight and practical wisdom she offers but in the technical efficiency with which she provides services and her ability to attract other clients willing to pay her to do the same. The sense of professional fulfillment associated with the role of service provider is small at best.
The article points out that the same transformation is happening to medicine. I believe that same thing has already happened to academia and more specifically the field of economics. Its only a matter of time before they come for you engineers.
OTTAWA - An internal report card says the Bank of Canada's economists don't write too good.
"Economists' writing skills were identified by many as an area for improvement," says an audit ordered by the central bank.
"This includes difficulties being succinct, grammatically correct, and prioritizing the data into useful information."