As I watched TV last night, something I don’t often do for any length of time, I counted five (5) commercials for different law firms. Five in about two hours. Every one of these ads touted services for personal injury cases and/or bankruptcy cases.
Now, there is nothing wrong with someone who has been injured to seek assistance. Neither is it wrong for someone who has, through no fault of their own, acquired debt they can no longer handle to file for bankruptcy protection. I have to wonder, however, if we have not created an overabundance of attorneys that they have to go looking for cases that might not otherwise be there. By father might have called that “ambulance chasing.” If that were to be the case, what may be at the core of this issue?
I am on the faculty of a large university. At the end of just about every semester, I receive multiple requests from students to write letters of recommendation for law school at one university or another. How many students can law schools accommodate? I know that many students wash out and a lot do not pass the state bar in the state of choice for their practice.
The real question is, “How many lawyers do we really need?” It appears that many lawyers practice for twenty years or more. It also appears that we are churning out attorneys in larger numbers than the numbers who are retiring. It also appears that the advertisers on television have increased, some have been added, and some practices have expanded to additional locations. So, are THAT many more people getting seriously hurt in accidents and are THAT many more people acquiring debt that is due to extraordinary circumstances?
I have to wonder if there is a correlation between the seemingly large numbers of students who graduate from law school and the rise in advertisements for personal injury attorneys and bankruptcy lawyers. Are there so many new lawyers each year that cases are made that might not have otherwise BEEN cases? Which came first, the need for an attorney or the need for an attorney to find a case? Has the ubiquity of these attorneys been a boon or a bane to the litigious climate in which we live and do business? Time will tell as the courts continue to have backlogs of real and (some number of) frivolous cases.