Everybody has their opinion on the bar. I waffle too much to even address if we should have a bar exam, so that will be left for another day.
I'm going to address a side point that the author raised about attorney salaries.
More importantly, I think that the high salaries of lawyers combined with the high cost of even very basic legal services show that we have too few lawyers rather than too many, and that the best way to determine the “right” number of lawyers is through market competition, not government mandate.
I clicked on the bio of this writer. Surprise, surprise, they are in academia! And instead of using personal anecdotes, or even questioning why this urban legend of thousands of unemployed attorneys exists, they reach for NALP numbers.
The professor/blogger says this bon mot in another blog entry:
I should note that the NALP and Labor Department data do not account for lawyers who are unemployed. Unfortunately, neither these sources nor others I have looked at have shown anything approaching a good estimate of the unemployment rate among lawyers. However, it seems unlikely that there is large Marxian “reserve army” of unemployed lawyers out there. If there were, one would expect lawyer salaries to drop substantially as competition from the unemployed drives down the pay of those who have jobs, especially at the lower ends of the distribution (e.g. — the 10th and 25th percentiles noted in the post).
According to this professor/blogger's theory, absolutely nobody should have been an unemployed attorney working the perfume counter at Macy's. Third year law students should have not had to even think about finding a job once they graduated. They should have their pick of desperate employers long before they were measured for their tams. They should have been begged to start work early by those who are swamped with work. Even if BIGLAW was making a few cuts, it doesn't mean that there aren't severely understaffed areas like small firms or public interest groups who have had to turn away cases because they just don't have the labor resources to take them.
I thought an actual clue that there are many unemployed attorneys would be hearing that there were well over 100 applicants for the same low-paying jobs that I had been applying for, but apparently not. Those numbers can be apparently explained away by assuming that there are over 100+ attorneys out there who are unhappy with their current employment and who have decided to lateral over into something that pays less than $40,000 per year.
But let's not stop there: Let's define non-saturation. If the professor wishes to talk about salaries, then we should also speak of what is missing in the compensation packages. If the legal profession were not overly saturated, a good majority of employees would get compensation packages that includes:
Paid moving expenses
Offers to pay for travel expenses for interviews
Week-long wooing sessions where they take you (the POTENTIAL employee, not the ACTUAL employee) and your spouse out to 4 star restaurants and Broadway productions
Reimbursement on your student loans
The biggest sign of non-saturation?
THE ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE YOUR SALARY.
I don't think anybody who has been on a job hunt recently can claim that they were engaged in skillful negotiations to get a great salary. All I've heard about is people who were in a take-it-or-leave-it position who chose to walk away. To me, that doesn't sound like a desperate employer who absolutely can't anybody for the job. It sounds more like an employer who has a large stack of resumes on their desk from people who were just as competent as the person they were offering the job.