Imagine an America Without Lawyers

At Bitter Lawyer, we are not immune to the troubles of lawyers. Business is hurting, LegalZoom vending machines continue to pop up on America’s streets, and over-leveraged law firm partners just won’t get the hint and retire. On top of that, law schools are annually cranking out new grads by the hundreds of millions, only some of whom will find full-time employment at Schpoonkle and other pseudo-legal establishments.

Which got us thinking: Why not start a relief fund for lawyers? And that’s just what we’ve done.

We sat down with Bitter Lawyer’s editor recently to talk about the issue and to learn more about what a legal humor and entertainment site is trying to do to address persistent malaise in the profession. Here’s what he had to say.

So, what is the Bitter Lawyer Relief Fund and why are you creating it now?

First and foremost, we started the Save the Lawyers campaign as a public awareness issue. People need to know about the struggle of American lawyers. And, once we raise public sympathy, we wanted to get some money together to help lawyers through some really hard economic times. It’s basically our small way of giving back to the profession, which we’ve been snarky about for roughly four years now.

So, all kidding aside, we see a lot of lawyers hurting. Some are not fully employed. Others are saddled with debt. Most are just kinda unhappy. Bitter even. And people are looking for another healthy and wholesome cause to which to donate their time and money. Saving lawyers just made sense, at least right now, right here.

Is it really that bad for lawyers?

Actually, I don’t know. But that’s what we’re hearing. Especially big firm lawyers. Very unhappy. And new lawyers are not digging life either.

Your most recent campaign has the tagline “Imagine an America Without Lawyers.” Can you actually imagine that?

Yes, absolutely. First, imagine trying to do a deal and the deal gets done in, like, two days. Two days! That’s nuts. Or imagine walking down an aisle at a Costco and falling into a misplaced deep fat fryer, only to respond “Hey, no problem, it’s good for my skin.” Or having a kidney mistakenly removed by an unlicensed nursing home administrator and simply concluding “no biggie, I came with two of those.” Is that an America we want? No. America is a nation of recourse. And lawyers are our best hope for something like that—we are not, as I like to say, a non-recourse nation. Not at all. Recourse, folks.

What do you hope to do with Save the Lawyers?

If we can keep one big firm lawyer in decent shoes, just one, I think Save the Lawyers will be a complete success. And maybe make a few solo attorneys happy. Small firm lawyers too. Bottom line, we just want a few more lawyers to be happier, up the happy quotient a bit. And giving them money with no strings attached is usually the fastest way to do that.

Your boss is the law practice blog Lawyerist. How is Lawyerist pitching in?

Honestly, Chad, I don’t know. For obvious important ethical and journalistic reasons, we maintain a solid Chinese wall between the two sites. Otherwise, Bitter Lawyer could become a dumping ground for Amazon affiliate links and for promotion of awesome product deals, such as Freshbooks or HostGator. Neither site wants that to happen.

What’s next?

Well, we’ve got some events that are in the works, including a national tour of law schools to raise awareness about the bitterness of the profession and to demonstrate how we can help. And we’re in very preliminary pre-discussion talks with lawyers who couldn’t make it and ended up doing stand up comedy, maybe they’ll let us do a stand-up set as part of a national tour. We’ll also release a few more public service ads like the one we did today, and we soon hope to bring out Sal, who is our Bitter Lawyer Save the Lawyers mascot. He’s a beaver. It’s going to be awesome.

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