Oregon State Bar Bulletin — DECEMBER 2011

Enough of the Cotton-Candy Spin
My thanks to author Janine Robben for investing her considerable time and energy in researching the law school employment statistics — and reporting as to same (“Cream and Sugar with That Law Degree? Parsing the Post-Law School Employment Numbers,” November 2011).Thanks, also, to the Oregon State Bar for its courage in actually printing the article, one which will help to spread the word as to the ways in which our state bar associations and law schools have long distorted the truth as to the availability of legal work. The large majority of the associations and schools will attempt to continue to sugarcoat the truth, if not disguise it entirely, but with major contributions such as “Cream and Sugar,” those who are contemplating applying to law school will at least have some sort of reasonable idea as to what work opportunities they could expect upon graduating.

Earlier this year I participated in a survey conducted by the Washington State Bar Association as to the current legal employment environment for Washington practitioners. The WSBA assigned each participant a pen name to provide anonymity. Participants were asked to comment a few times a day, over the course of a week, as to questions posed by the survey moderator. The remarks were refreshingly candid, similar to what two longtime friends could exchange between themselves without fear of condemnation by some overreaching authority, whether employer or otherwise.

The survey participants expressed the common concern that the law schools and bar associations help no one in camouflaging the actual employment picture, whether the focus be the availability of legal work, the pay the graduates could expect or otherwise (such as job satisfaction, which satisfaction appears well short of healthful). I was pleased that the WSBA would solicit comments. Just what the WSBA will do with those comments remains to be seen.

Thanks again to Ms. Robben and the OSB Bulletin. Major articles such as Ms. Robben’s will go a long way in helping to dissolve the typical cotton-candy-like fluff that the various state-sponsored legal institutions spin. Perhaps the OSB is willing to be among those few institutions that are now taking a lead role in reducing that fluff.

Brian Ragen, Kennewick, Wash.

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