The American legal system has an Atticus Finch complex, and it’s killing the profession

We have a lopsided market in which poor people can’t afford legal fees and are thus priced out of legal help.


Katie Rose Pryal
March 31, 2016

Tags: Access to Justice, Justice for All


With higher-paying legal jobs seemingly harder and harder to find, it’s not surprising that applications to law schools have been dropping precipitously in recent years. Some say that this drop in applications is simple predictable market adjustment: There are no jobs, so there should be fewer lawyers. In response to the drop in applications, some law schools have begun to close. As Jordan Weissman at Slate reported, law schools have been “locked in brutal competition to attract students who might theoretically one day be qualified to sit for a bar exam.” Weissman is referring to American Bar Association standard 501, which requires schools to avoid admitting any student “who does not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar.” If law schools admit students who can’t pass the bar, they can lose their ABA accreditation.
But I’d say that the problem is not that we have too many lawyers, or that there aren’t enough legal jobs. The problem is we have forgotten what the purpose of the legal profession really is.