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article imageCrashing professions: doctors and lawyers in decline as the new economy calls

By Paul Wallis     Jan 6, 2008 in Business
Thirty per cent of law associates leaving, 60 per cent of doctors thinking of leaving, and of those doctors, 70% know someone who’s left. The reasons include lack of rewards, pressure, and big money elsewhere, particularly on the net.
The prestige is vanishing, too, eclipsed by the lure of gigantic sums being made.
As socio-cultural indictments go, that’s quite an inventory. These are bedrock professions, in the case of medicine, an essential profession, and the bedrock is turning into silly putty.
The New York Times article paints a very odd picture:
In a culture that prizes risk and outsize reward — where professional heroes are college dropouts with billion-dollar Web sites — some doctors and lawyers feel they have slipped a notch in social status, drifting toward the safe-and-staid realm of dentists and accountants. It’s not just because the professions have changed, but also because the standards of what makes a prestigious career have changed.”
There have been declines in new applications for law and medicine, and an interesting revelation from an American Bar Association survey that 44% of lawyers wouldn’t recommend the profession to a young person.
The new professional addictions are things like starting a new Myspace and Facebook. Big money, kudos, status… Similar to one of those ads where your sex life improves if you buy a new washcloth, and everyone sits around smiling happily ever after.
Even more bleak is why some of them became lawyers in the first place: The imagery and glamour of Ally McBeal and LA Law…
Perfect introductions to the legal profession.
A lot of crime is about wardrobe.
Maybe some of the Americans on DJ can help me with this. What level of mental vacuum is required, to be able to use things like that for a career choice? Does it do upholstery and shag carpets, too? Has this been patented?
I’ve seen fruit flies with more advanced life models.
Partnerships in law are also in decline, thanks to mergers. The profession is leveling out, after all these years of glitz and standup comedy.
Medicine is suffering, too, not only from a catatonic health industry and rabid business practices, but because industries like finance, (that other home of implied genius), are attacking the colleges and recruiting.
The decline in standards is driving some of the medical pros nuts, and nobody would have to ask why. Being a doctor could be as bad as being a mortgage lender, at this rate. From status to stigma is a long way, but it’s happened.
The NYT persists in using the word “cachet” to describe the social niches of the professions, meaning their importance. (It’s an anachronism for Francophiles. I had to look it up myself.)
Those born in the years with “AD” after them may not know that this importance relates to the social myth which insists social status is based on professions. It's an easier concept to work into market figures, and can penetrate the microscopic attention spans and vocabularies of people to whom humanity is just a rumor.
There actually was a time when being a lawyer or a doctor meant more than what you were watching on TV in high school... Really, there was... And you could sue people who ran you over with their mammoth, and everything...
Maybe this story does have a real investigative bone in it.
All these years of wondering why the legal profession had become a vampire, and medicine a sort of lottery, now have an answer.
They were only acting. Maybe if they had a Golden Globe or Academy Award for them, they’d get better.
“And the award for best supporting barrister in a medical malpractice suit goes to…”
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