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Talking with Dan Richardson is a past president of the Vermont bar association and a regular guest on the day, Graham show here on WD EV FM and AM. Today's topic is about the graying the aging of the legal profession in Vermont, and we're as we noted that's certainly not unique to the legal profession. But, but the legal Russian actually may be sort of a canary, Nicole mine, kind of thing for the overall for Mont economy in Vermont demographic, picture. And then. Why do we think I mean, let's talk about the, the beginning of the pipeline near the only law school in Vermont is the is the rollout law school in south royalty. And they've been going through some upheaval in recent times. And is that part of the reason that we are seeing fewer lawyers coming into the profession? I mean they've been quite a pipeline over the years for developing legal talented in Vermont. They have been, and I think that is part of the story, you know, there's been a shift when I went to law school and beginning really the nineties and early two thousands. The idea of going to law school was sold, as you could be anything. If you go to law school, you can it's, it's the perfect flexible degree, which it isn't if you wanna be a lawyer law school is the best thing in the world. If you don't you probably better off putting your money. Elsewhere, it's not the universal degree. It was it was sold as and I think, you know, right after the. The crash of the market in two thousand eight a lot of people went back to graduate school, thinking, I'll ride out the, the rough economy in, in school. And law school enrollments saw their numbers go up quite substantially and a lot of schools took advantage of that. I mean, the law schools were seen as this great moneymaker. So there were all these law schools over started law schools, that existed one under capital campaigns to expand Vermont law school is one of them, you know, they went from their, their physical footprint went from a relatively modest sized to expanding and renovating these buildings and creating these vary Laverick classrooms, in part to keep up with the rat race. But also, you know, it was the sort of overly optimistic and then it crashed. Because what happened was people got out started graduating, and there were no jobs. Or, you know, your degree wasn't the great universal key to unlock employment elsewhere. And so you had this. Sort of backlash in the in the teens early teens were people stopped enrolling while these law schools needed people to enroll, and they had a lot of problems and some of these smaller independent law schools, you know, we're desperate. And so when you are dealing with fewer applicants, you start taking more applicants, anyone, and so a lot of these standards started going much lower and you started seeing a lot of problems when the bar passage rates. And this is a national trend that they've just been struggling with. And there's a there's a wonderful website called above the law, and they track a lot of these bar results in just have been atrocious. And, you know, there was there is there was a push by a lot of legal institutions, and this was the sort of pushing pull is that legal institutions need students in the seats. They need them paying tuition so that they can fund something like Vermont law. School is eighty percent reliant upon current student tuition to keep them. Elves afloat. And so if the students aren't in the seats, the law school can't function, and so they need to keep people in the seats and you know, it was pushed towards well, let's loosen the standards. Maybe we won't require L sats anymore and other people in the profession were saying, wait a minute. If you do that, that's really, really bad. Because L sats these other test standards the bar there. Predictors will someone be a good lawyer will someone be able to function as within the bar, and that was really, really critical. And so you had people pushing back on this, and, and it creates this, this dynamic that, you know, it pushes people away in general, from from going to law school, and they see that this is, this is not an easy proposition, or a golden ticket to constant employment or even lucrative employment. So are fewer twenty five year old lawyers showing up in Vermont in twenty nineteen word? They weren't say twenty twelve. Yes. And by what percentage you have any sense of that? I don't have the actual numbers, but, you know, Vermont's always also been, you know, this is part of the Vermont, legal community, is that if you go to other states, and particularly big cities, you know, they have regular employment needs. And so you, you know, there's listings summer Societa chips that lead to jobs. There's a regular pipeline, Vermont has always been sort of a word of mouth state, and I teach at the law school as an adjunct faculty. And, you know, so I've watched students over the past five six years, and they, they get jobs, people who want to be a lawyer in, Vermont will always get a job. But it may not be in the first three months after graduation may not be in the first six months after graduation. People may have to take another side job until they comes through when they make that connection and they get hired by whomever, whether it be a private firm, or the state government, or the defender general's office, but. You know, people do get jobs, but it's just not that normal sort of employment pipeline, and you have to stick around you have to be willing to sort of ask several people and, and some people just aren't prepared to do that. And as a result, I think, you know, when, when there's other market factors that play those numbers started depress, and so the bottom line here is, let's talk about sort of what the problem is then because one of the things I was looking at I think was an article by a successor of yours as president of the Ron farm association. Gary Franklin writing in the VA journal, I believe it was, this is the weakest goes. So my memory may be a little foggy, but talking about worries that, you know, it may be actually difficult to find a lawyer in, in either currently or in the coming years as finally the older lawyers, you know, off into the sunset or move, Florida or whatever people do and. And all of a sudden, they're just less legal help around this is true. It's an access to Justice issue. If there aren't younger lawyers coming in taking over these roles, you know, there are fewer lawyers available. And that means when people do need a lawyer. They may not have access to one and we talked earlier about the fact that this is gonna hit, and is hitting rural communities. I take a town like Northfield, which is not particularly rural. But when I started practicing. Sixteen years ago. There were six lawyers in Northfield. Now, there's basically one and a half. You know, people have not taken the place of lawyers who have closed their shops in various, towns, and small communities of the other four and a half lawyers retired and, or any of them just move away, and take jobs in the big city or anything or is it really more retirement? Some have retired some have stopped practicing some have slowed down, or, you know, have diversified, when I say a half, I mean, you know, one of the lawyers does lobbying most of the time so, you know, his private practice work has gone down substantially. He's not gonna be able to take the cases that he wants was. You know, these type of, of changes that are just survival changes for some of these lawyers. But they the population of Northfield hasn't changed. The legal needs of Northfield haven't changed people shift and look further north. But even in a city like Montpellier, you know, I'm seeing where I practice. I, I see a lot of changes in that city's practice community in that, you know, firms are starting to dissolve and the older lawyers, you know, either retire or they, they form like a little small part time practice or but you don't see younger lawyers coming in and taking their place. I remember years ago, twenty thirty years ago, probably I saw statistic, and I was never sure of its reliability. But maybe more of a rumor, I don't know. But the, the mafia supposedly had the second highest number of lawyers per cabinet, in the country, courses, small, capital that had the underlying population has a lot to do with. Any reading per capita second highest in the country behind Washington DC, so yeah, I've heard that as well. And I've never actually seen this study, that would would support it. But, you know, part of it would be that most of those lawyers would be employed by the state, so it would be, you know, general counsel at an agency, or they would be the deputy councils or, you know, they might be lawyers, but not really work as lawyers. But work in state government and policy positions, Jim. So, yeah, I mean, I think there there, there were it's just it's when you go into any of these towns, and you need a lawyer as a private citizen, they aren't there. You know, I, I also wonder sometimes whether the. There's a little bit of I don't eating your own seed corn going on here because because of the way law firms of operated over the past few decades in the sense of wanting to employ fewer people. There's a lot of technology that has come in, in, in the legal profession where, you know, years ago, I heard really within the last ten years, I'm hearing lament that there just aren't as many jobs for young lawyers as they used to be because of these changes. That's true. And, you know, I think there's also, you know, bringing on associate in a firm setting, you know, is an investment, and a lot of firms haven't a lot of firms you get partners. They're very smart capable people. And they carry their case caseloads. And they act like little independent law firms within a law firm. And nobody says we, we need to be training, our successors because it takes it takes a while. When you graduate loss. School. You're not ready in most cases to go out on your own. You're not ready to go into private practice. You need training. You need to build your client base. They often call it the book of business and that takes five years at the I think, at the least unless you come in with some advantage, some reputation or some background it's gonna take five years to get up to speed and be ready to be sort of a lead partner, and a lot of these firms haven't invested in that because they, they said, well, we'd rather take the money for ourselves. And you know that's perfectly legitimate. But there you wake up one day and everybody in the offer is over sixty five and nobody wants to bring on Societa at that point. And then you're faced with a real question of succession, and, you know, the bar association has long been talking about this issue was when I was president, Gary is clearly picking up the torch on a lot of these issues. I can tell you my Kennedy, whose bar council regularly lectures on these issues, and it's, it's, it's really it's a coming sort of gray storm that we have to. We have to be aware of and part of the answer may lie in, in saying, well, you know, we have to redefine, just as medical profession has done redefine the role of lawyers and paralegals and other legal assistance. And how can we get people to have access to Justice and in that respect the court has started to look at this, but there really are no quick, easy answers because you're talking about a number of different factors here. I mean, even with us talking about the graying of the bar, that's only the sort of top of the iceberg. There are all these other issues below it that are not easy issues like student debt incentives to get young people to move to a state, that's by and large struggling with that across the board. No matter what the profession is, as well as challenges to the legal profession technology. You know, the, the lack of resources for people to afford lawyers. You know, these are all playing in together, and they all make very difficult. Puzzle. Yeah. It's it's early. Sounds like hey, listeners out there. If you have any questions you'd like to ask about this issue, you more the world to give ring two four, four one seven seven seven..