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Bill Henderson
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Corey, this is a great line I will use and attribute to you: "[T]his is not private industry ruled by the invisible hand, it is public or quasi-public/non-profit education and we can see the hand." Another issue you raise: this topic is "hard" for law professors because it affects us. From a student or practicing lawyer perspective, however, changes forced on us from external forces are not a big deal--indeed, it very well might be a better deal for the public at large. One more truth you wrote: A better economy would forgive all these sins. I agree. The go-go times of 2007 did not help all students, but there was a sense of forward momentum economically (yes, the legal press played/plays a role here). I just don't see any reason for those go-go times to reappear. The clients who financed it are looking for more for less. And they have huge supplier capacity, including new vendors, to get what more of what they want at better prices. It is a structural change because the drivers aren't present to get us back to 2007. Best regards, bh.
Orin, you raise a fair point and something I encounter often. I have summarized the underlying data for my structural change / new legal entrepreneur analysis several places including the ABA Journal: And more recently, the Truth on the Market symposium on deregulation of legal services: Lawyers generally don't consult industry level data. When I talk to groups of practicing lawyers--and I do so regularly--and I show them trendlines and comparisons with other industries that have undergone structural change, very few continue to advance the deep recession argument because such an analysis just does not fit the industry level trendlines. In the literature on industry change, incumbent denial and flatfootedness is a recurring theme; indeed, it is the reason for the new entrant opportunity. When a lawyer's phone is ringing and he/she has enough work and has earned a high living over a period of decades, I can be dismissed as an ivory tower Cassandra. I understand and accept this dynamic. I encounter it all the time. But I am focused on industry level evidence and discussions I have with a wide range of practicing lawyers and entrepreneurs. Applyng Occam's Razor, I look for the explanation that requires the fewest assumptions. Structural change fits; it has happened in other industries; now it is law's turn. I hope my comment is responsive to your question. Thank you for commenting. Bill H.