Eric Quitugua 2017-10-19 17:57:55
Survey findings suggest that most lawyers are satisfied with their careers, but the 2008 recession took a toll on newer attorneys. Results from a recent study that measured the 2008 economic recession’s impact on attorneys’ attitudes on law practice suggest that most Texas lawyers are satisfied or very satisfied with their careers, although newer lawyers report greater dissatisfaction than those who began practicing before 2008. “There’s been a lot of speculation involving the effect of the recession on lawyers and lawyers’ careers,” said Texas A&M University School of Law professor Milan Markovic, co-author of the study. “In fact, there’s been a new term coined known as the ‘new normal.’ That new normal has allegedly been very challenging for lawyers and has made a legal career much less desirable.” The study, “Attorneys’ Career Dissatisfaction in the New Normal,” was co-authored by California State Polytechnic University sociology and criminology assistant professor Gabriele Plickert and sought to empirically examine the speculation about the recession, which was seen as the point where growth in law practice rapidly came to a halt. Beyond that point is a low-growth environment with less demand for legal services known as the new normal. Where law as a career has been viewed as stable and secure, the recession challenged that perception with job layoffs, hiring freezes, and salary decreases. “These changes were not as relevant prior to 2008,” Plickert said. “The magnitude of the recession impact still remains to be seen. Young lawyers nowadays will have to adjust to the newer circumstances and demands to find opportunities within the current legal landscape.” Markovic and Plickert collaborated with the State Bar of Texas Department of Research and Analysis to collect data on levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, as well as their driving factors, among attorneys who began practice before the recession and those who started after. In March 2016, the department sent a link to a survey to the State Bar’s more-than 94,000 active members. More than 11,000 attorneys responded. About 17.8 percent of respondents with less than six years of experience (post-recession) reported being very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with their careers. Of the respondents with more than six years of experience (pre-recession), 11.4 percent reported being very dissatisfied or dissatisfied. The study also found that comparatively low earnings and employment in non-partnership roles were predictive of career dissatisfaction among attorneys. According to the study, the recession forced more attorneys to work in non-law related fields. Newer attorneys in these fields may have sought these jobs because of a lack of other opportunities, as opposed to more experienced attorneys who chose to transition to them. Newer lawyers in non-legal fields are 162.8 percent more likely to be dissatisfied with their careers than their peers in private practice, the study found. Median incomes also differed among newer attorneys and those who began practice before the recession. Money, Markovic said, is unsurprisingly a driver of satisfaction. “I’m not sure if established lawyers fully appreciate the challenges that have greeted newer lawyers,” Markovic said. “The reality is that if you look at incomes of lawyers—those who started practicing before the recession—their incomes are well above what they were prior to the recession. It’s newer lawyers whose incomes actually—even without adjusting for inflation—appear to be lower than they were before the recession.” The report, using data from the State Bar, found that full-time attorneys with zero to two years of experience and with three to six years of experience had a median income of $91,765 and $106, 681 respectively in 2009. In 2015, those median incomes were $70,000 and $98,000 respectively. However, not all is doom and gloom. Markovic pointed to studies on entry-level salaries by groups such as the National Association for Law Placement in which those numbers are inching up for attorneys within a year out of law school. Satisfaction for newer attorneys going forward, Markovic said, depends on the ability to attain a partnership rank and income gains, which tend to come as lawyers develop expertise and reputations. “Based on the data we’ve collected on lawyer satisfaction, we’re pleased to note that lawyers in a variety of practice settings, from a variety of backgrounds and academic performance, all seem to be relatively satisfied,” he said. “The important points going forward will be if lawyers’ incomes and career trajectories will resemble those of the past.” To see the report and survey, go to texasbar.com/recession_report. STATE BAR OF TEXAS ATLARGE DIRECTORS SOUGHT Nominations are now being accepted for two appointed at-large director positions on the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors. Four at-large positions on the board are required to be appointed by the president of the State Bar subject to confirmation by the board of directors. In making the appointments, the president is required to appoint directors who demonstrate knowledge gained from experience in the legal profession and community necessary to ensure the board represents the interests of attorneys from the varied backgrounds that compose the membership of the State Bar of Texas. Two at-large directors will be appointed in January 2018. One will serve the remainder of a three-year term, until June 2020. The second will serve a three-year term from June 2018 until June 2021. An Ad Hoc Committee to Nominate At-Large Directors will recommend two candidates for each position to the State Bar president, who will select one candidate for each position for appointment subject to ratification of the State Bar board. Nominees will be responsible for their own expenses related to the interview process. CRITERIA FOR SELECTION Any active, licensed lawyer in good standing with the State Bar is eligible to be nominated, provided such lawyer is not currently serving as an elected director or appointed director. The Ad Hoc Committee shall nominate only persons who demonstrate knowledge gained from experience in the legal profession and community necessary to ensure the board represents the interests of attorneys from the varied backgrounds that compose the membership of the State Bar of Texas. The Ad Hoc Committee shall be guided by, but not limited by, the following criteria in selecting its nominees for at-large director: • The degree of representation already on the State Bar Board of Directors from a particular geographic area, substantive area of practice, and size of practice. • The population of the area in which the nominee resides and practices. • The content of recommendation letters for a nominee. • The size of a nominee’s practice. • A nominee’s: ◆ substantive areas of practice. ◆ demonstration of leadership ability. ◆ involvement in civic activities within the community. ◆ participation in local and specialty bar associations. ◆ participation in local bar, State Bar, and American Bar Association committees, sections, and activities. ◆ years of licensure. The deadline for nominations is October 27, 2017. Persons interested in being nominated for at-large director should submit the following: a nomination letter from a third party (self-nominations will not be accepted), a resume, three to five letters of recommendation, and a brief personal statement of no more than 500 words explaining why they have “knowledge gained from experience in the legal profession and community necessary to ensure the board represents the interests of attorneys from the varied backgrounds that compose the membership of the State Bar.” Submit the information to: AD HOC COMMITTEE TO NOMINATE AT-LARGE DIRECTORS email@example.com Or by regular mail, c/o State Bar of Texas 1414 Colorado Street, Ste. 300 Austin, TX 787011627 If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that an application for at-large director does not preclude an applicant from running for a geographic area board position. Petitions for the elected board member positions must be received at the State Bar headquarters by March 1, 2018.
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