Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In Spite of Shakespeare

As a third year law student I should be excited at what awaits me after graduation. But the truth is, I'm kind of worried. In William Shakespeare's King Henry VI Part 2, he recommends, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Well, with the current legal prospects given our economic state, there might not be many lawyers left to kill off.

I grew up watching stories of successful attorneys become wealthy beyond the imaginations of most, but this fairy tale is slowly becoming a thing of the past -- at least for most new attorneys. There are over 300 million Americans living today and, according to the American Bar Association, " . . . there were 1,116, 967 licensed attorneys in June of 2006. The number rose to 1,128,729 by the end of 2006, and grew to 1,143,358 by the end of 2007." With those kind of numbers, one would expect that - as rare as a licensed attorney is - the ability to be fabulously wealthy, as an attorney, is still relativity likely. It's just not the case.

The average salary for an attorney now is less than $60,000. Of course, 60k is nothing to sneeze at, especially when there are two incomes in the family. However, it's very unlikely that at $60,000, the average attorney will be featured on "The Life Styles of The Rich and Famous." To be sure, money is not the only reason to practice law. I can tell you from experience that if one does not possess a passion for the study and practice of law, life as an attorney can amount to a miserable experience -- even if the money is good. As an attorney one is provided with countless opportunities to do good for society. There are so many of us out there that are trying to manipulate the system and perpetuate the negative connotations that come with the title of "esquire" that the need for honest, principled practitioners is as great and as rare as it has ever been. There is a lot of purpose one can find in being an attorney and that (along with the money) is what keeps people like me passionate about the practice of law.

I certainly hope to be one of the noblemen that bring integrity back into the practice of law, but I also would like a stable of European super cars out behind a multi-million dollar family estate. The truth is that there are always going to be obstacles to the path of independent wealth. It is the innovator, the hard worker, the man unwilling to give up on his dreams and that of his family's who makes it. I fully intend on making it; and, in spite of those with a mind like Shakespeare, I'll do it with a law license.

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