The recession usually gets the blame.
Maybe it's time to "blame" technology instead; new software is replacing many lawyers.
Computers allow much "discovery" work in civil cases to be done electronically, and without drudgery complaint:
“(E)-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time (of lawyers) for a fraction of the cost. In January, for example, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, Calif., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000.Wow. And, that was before Watson won at Jeopardy!
And, not to get too Luddite, but, while some people talk about technology creating new jobs, what kind of jobs are they?
“There is no reason to think that technology creates unemployment,” MIT Professor David H. Autor said. “Over the long run we find things for people to do. The harder question is, does changing technology always lead to better jobs? The answer is no.”And, anticipating Watson II:
“The economic impact will be huge,” said Tom Mitchell, chairman of the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “We’re at the beginning of a 10-year period where we’re going to transition from computers that can’t understand language to a point where computers can understand quite a bit about language.”There's even supposedly software that can recognize the "tone" of an e-mail. If that improves, a la Watson II type computers, customer service reps are probably also in danger of losing more jobs.
Specific to law, jobs can also be outsourced. India has plenty of good English speakers who have grown up in the Anglo half of Anglo-American legal traditions.