Paul L. Caron

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Atticus Finch Effect: Has Donald Trump Made Attorneys (And Law Schools) Popular Again?


Following up on my previous posts (links below):  My Northwest, The Atticus Effect: Has Trump Made Attorneys Popular Again?:

Kellye Testy knew perceptions had shifted when, purely by accident, she bumped into a couple of her former students while having dinner in Seattle.

Testy, dean of the University of Washington School Of Law, said the two men — now attorneys — had just arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Excited, they gushed to her that they had engineered the legal proceedings which grounded an aircraft and stopped U.S. immigration authorities from deporting legal immigrants in the hours following President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban. Then, as they loudly gabbed about the evening’s events, a surprising thing happened: The other diners broke out in applause.

“The whole restaurant was, ‘Woo hoo!’ and applauding these guys,” she recalled. “It was an amazing scene.” ...

The wave of pro-lawyer sentiment in the wake President Donald Trump’s election and subsequent executive orders and cabinet appointments has caught even the most thick-skinned, skeptical attorneys a little off-guard. ...

UW political science professor Michael McCann, a national expert on lawyers and society, said the profession hit its hero height during the civil rights era. Specifically, the book and movie, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and its lawyer paragon Atticus Finch had a seismic effect on lawyer appreciation.

“There’s no doubt that in the 1960s — the 50s through the 70s — that the image of the heroic lawyer, the Atticus Finch, was really central, was very influential,” McCann said. When the American Bar Association in the ’60s and ’70s asked why people enrolled in law school, “They mentioned ‘Atticus Finch,’ all of the time, like 90 percent.”

But in the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the tide turned. Increasing civil litigation, few examples of lasting social change pushed by noble lawyers, and even the proliferation of lawyer jokes, put the profession back in a dim light. ...

Lawyers, [Testy] said, should have a thick skin and don’t need to be loved to be good and vital. That said, law school inquiries are up at the UW and she’s enjoying the warmth from their moment in the sun — for as long as it lasts. “The more the world understands what lawyers do, the more we can help make the world a better place,” Testy said.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Education | Permalink


Yes, but is interest in UW grads up?

Only 131 of 191 grads of Co2015 found FT, LT, license-required work at any salary within TEN months of graduation, well past the threshold for the damnable "long-term unemployed" rubric. 127 of 200 for the Co 2014. 124 of 183 for Co 2013. 123 of 181 for Co 2012. 96 of 182 for the Co 2011. That's a whole lot of "lawyers" left out in the cold for a supposedly surging demand.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Feb 23, 2017 5:54:54 AM