Helping New Lawyers in Hard Times

Vol. 41 No. 4

By

Bart Legum (blegum@salans.com) is a partner in the Paris office of the international law firm Salans. He is head of the firm’s investment treaty arbitration practice.

 

The economic crisis that seized the world in 2008 has had a lasting and bitter impact on the youngest and most vulnerable members of the bar. Law firms, both in the United States and abroad, where I practice, have significantly decreased the number of new hires for several years in a row. Successive classes have graduated from law school to find a market flooded with earlier graduates who remain unemployed or underemployed—and this despite strong academic credentials and energetic efforts to realize their dreams of becoming a lawyer. Many graduates, particularly those schooled in the United States, invested heavily in their education and have become heavily indebted based on the promise of our profession and its prosperity in the decades before.

We as a profession must make sure that this generation of new lawyers and students does not become a “lost” one, to paraphrase Hemingway. The young are our future. We must help them get through this difficult time and integrate them into the profession as the economic climate improves (hopefully) in the coming years.

I am pleased to say that the Section earlier this month created a task force to examine the challenges to young lawyers posed by the economic crisis. The task force will recommend solutions that build upon the other efforts by bar associations. Among these other efforts is the change earlier this month to Rule 5.5 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which now allows lawyers to practice in a new jurisdiction while applying for admission (see Resolution 105D, authored by the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, which the Section cosponsored). This change will make it easier for young lawyers to move where the jobs are and start their careers.

At this point, we do not yet have the answers, and a complete solution to such a wide-ranging problem may prove elusive. But we as professionals owe it to the next generation to try our best. And I am constantly surprised at the remarkable achievements that the Section of International Law effects when it tries.

Data protection—the focus of this issue of ILN—is a key issue for international practice today, and it is one that practitioners in a wide range of different fields must master to serve their clients well. As a reflection of the topic’s importance, multiple panels will address data protection from different perspectives at the Section’s Fall Meeting at the Fontainebleau Hotel and Resort in Miami, Florida, October 16–20, 2012. The 60-some panels at the Fall Meeting will examine dozens of other cutting-edge topics from the practical, real-life perspective that the Section prides itself on. I very much look forward to seeing you in Miami in October.

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