YOUR ABA/MIDYEAR MEETING REPORT
to hire private counsel.
The results of the meeting were
promising, Wells said in an interview with the ABA Journal during
a break in activity at the 2009 ABA
Midyear Meeting in Boston.
“It’s fair to say we did not get
any negative signals—not that they
said they would support everything
we’re calling for,” said Wells, a partner at Maynard Cooper & Gale in
“It’s a rare ABA president who
doesn’t face an issue in their term
that they didn’t anticipate,” he said.
Clearly for Wells, that unanticipated
issue has been the nation’s economic
crisis and the ripple effect throughout the legal profession.
Wells, however, is optimistic that
the Obama administration will be
receptive to the ABA’s initiatives,
especially the ones that address
economic concerns in the legal profession and those segments of the
population being battered by the
“We have a lawyer in the White
House—actually two,” said Wells,
referring to Michelle Obama, who
with her husband is a Harvard Law
School graduate, “and a lawyer as
vice president. So we have a different level of understanding about
tion officials were “interested but noncommittal.” The ABA will continue to push for Legal Corps with the administration and on Capitol
Hill, Wells told the Journal.
Wells, whose term will end at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago
this August, also expressed concern that the economic crisis may make
it more difficult to achieve salary adjustments for federal judges, which
the association has lobbied hard for, and to maintain state and local
courts at necessary levels.
President H. Thomas Wells
“Trying to make a case for adequate
funding for the third branch of government
is particularly hard in these tough economic
times,” said Wells.
Wells said the ABA is bolstering efforts
to assist lawyers who have been affected by
the economic downturn. One of those steps
has been to create a “recession survival kit”
or lawyer’s resource center that is available
to members on the ABA website.
Nevertheless, Wells acknowledged that
the current economic challenges are daunting. “One of the things we have the least
control over,” he said, “is the economy.”
LEGAL CORPS WOULD DIRECT MORE
lawyers into efforts to represent a
broad segment of working people in
matters arising out of the economic
crisis, such as foreclosures. Legal
Corps lawyers would bolster services already being provided by lawyers in local offices supported by
federal funding channeled through
the Legal Services Corp. and lawyers working pro bono.
Wells cited statistics indicating
that a homeowner represented by a
lawyer is 50 percent more likely to
keep his or her property rather than
lose it to foreclosure.
The ABA’s initial proposal calls
for federal funding to help support
some 1,000 salaried lawyers providing services to clients meeting certain economic need criteria.
According to Wells, administra-
SURVEY: YOUNG LAWYERS GLAD
CONTRARY TO MEDIA REPORTS SUGGESTING WIDESPREAD LAWYER DISSAT
isfaction, a new study of 4,160 individuals who became lawyers in 2000
has found that three out of four say they are either extremely or moderately satisfied with their decision to become an attorney.
The surprising result is part of the second phase of the American Bar
Foundation’s After the J.D. study, presented at the midyear meeting.
The $1.8 million cohort study is tracking the careers of lawyers over
the course of 12 years. The attorneys were first interviewed in 2002, two
years after they began practicing. The latest set of data comes from interviews conducted in 2007.
The high satisfaction rating “is a startling number,” said panelist Kay
H. Hodge, a partner with Boston’s Stoneman, Chandler & Miller and a
former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association.
“I think to some extent, the [legal] profession is its own worst enemy,”
she said. “We don’t walk with the pride we must to encourage young
people to become lawyers.”
Among the study’s major findings was that, as lawyers move deeper
into their careers, fewer and fewer work in private practice. It also found
that women continue to have difficulty becoming equity partners in law
firms and are still not paid as much as men.
Between their second and seventh year of practice, 58 percent of the
lawyers changed jobs, the study found. “It’s like musical chairs,” said law
professor Joyce Sterling of the University of Denver. Sterling is one of
the academics conducting the study.
“The thing that surprised us most,” Sterling said, “was the increase in
the number of lawyers working in business.”
The number serving as in-house counsel jumped from 4 percent in
2002 to 11 percent in 2007, while the number working as nonlawyers for
corporations increased from 4 percent to almost 8 percent.
—Edward A. Adams