The Legal Field Blues

The Northwest Asian Weekly has an article about whether Asian Americans are rethinking entering the legal field as a career, despite a small increase in numbers of API law students between 2000-2009. Nothing much new here, another rendition of the law field blues — the economy sucks, there are too many lawyers, whoa, whoa, ooo.

The article tries its darndest to make this general point relevant to APAs, getting quotes from NAPABA‘s Tina Matsuoka and Above the Law‘s David Lat and briefly mentioning the non-cracking through of glass ceilings situation. (I’d like to find out more about Lat’s comment that the Asian American community could be better on networking.) The article then goes on to profile APAs at different stages in their careers: a partner, young attorney, law student, and former-litigator-now-photographer. The Young Attorney sees APA attorneys as bridges to Asian and Asian American businesses, and has succeeded in carving out such a place for himself at his firm. It’s a limited view (that will fit the bill for some individuals, great) but kind of a limiting vision. Isn’t there more to it?

In the end, APA or not, it looks like being a lawyer is what you make of it. This article is not alone in portraying the law as a profession with a pretty limited palette — litigation, huge law firms, the law you see on TV — and I wish there was more of an effort, especially by law schools, to show the full breadth of what being a lawyer, or possessing a JD, can be and has the potential to be. In any case, most people who would’ve actually done that shrugging of shoulders bit won’t make this choice as a default anymore, now that there’s been more light shed on the state of the profession. And now, some of you APA kids can get your parents off your back by singing them a few bars of the law field blues.


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