That’s Where the Money Is
In 20 years the population that will require nursing home care will have grown almost 300%. What do you think the chances are that there will be enough attorneys who specialize in the area of elder law and special needs trusts to adequately deal with the health care leviathan that is the baby boomer generation? With the legal job market being the most difficult it has been for new attorneys in the last 30 years; does it not makes sense that new attorneys should be looking into nontraditional areas that have a real potential for growth and development? Personal injury will always be around but there are more personal injury attorneys, than are actually needed. Public defender and state attorney’s are always needed, but with the skyrocketing cost of student loans and inflation in our economy the 35-40,000 dollar a year salary may just not be feasible. Why won’t new attorneys stop, take a look around, and ask themselves where there is the greatest need? It’s as if the new attorneys are fireman who just got the call about an emergency that requires their help. They hurry down the street to see a nursing home on fire on one side of the road with only one or two fireman putting out the blaze and on the other side of the road there is a kitten stuck in a tree with 100 firemen already attempting to pry the cat down. The fireman already helping the cat also have TV commercials and their pictures painted on buses and billboards. Which side of the road has the best chance of a new fireman getting some real life practical experience in their profession? Which side allows the greatest possibility of getting personal satisfaction in helping someone? Which side do you believe is going to be more grateful to you?
There are only a few areas of law that have the potential for growth that elder law has, and none of them in my point of view can be as personally rewarding. Being able to sit down with a family and help them to develop a plan for their future. All of this while still being fairly compensated sounds too good to be true. Now I know that developing wills, trusts, and having to deal with Medicaid and tax issues is not as sexy as say litigation, but look at how many personal injury cases actually go to trial. How many of those cases are being handled by someone who is just starting out? If you are still convinced that litigation holds all of the excitement you believe that you need, then go and actually talk with a litigation attorney, or better yet spend a day at the court house watching the streams of people go in and out.
If you believe that you were meant to work as legal counsel for a large firm that is great, but do you really know what the typical work of day of an attorney at one of those large firms looks like? Once again go talk with an attorney who actually does work at one of those firms and then ask yourself if spending 70 hours a week doing discovery requests for the possibility of one day, 5 years from now becoming partner is worth it. I am over generalizing, and I know both personal injury litigation attorneys and large defense firm attorneys who are happy with the work that they do, but I know for a fact that they are the exception to the rule. It is time if you have either just started law school or has been out of school practicing for a couple of years to really ask yourself what it is that drives you. I asked myself that question and found that I have always been involved with helping people whether it is the disabled or the less fortunate than me. I at the same time have a young son who I must provide for as well as a mountain of student loan debt along with other financial obligations. I am also not strong willed enough to be a social worker or public defender, but what I can do is empathize and talk sincerely with people. I am genuinely concerned with helping people with their problems and what better way to help them than to make sure that their family will be financially protected for the future? If we cam have more attorney’s who feel the same way that I do get involved and focused in the area of elder law than we will be able to solve a lot of the upcoming problems facing that baby boomer generation before it is too late! It is not rocket science. The famous bank robber Willie Sutton is known for having said, when asked why he robbed banks, “because that is where the money is.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Sutton The children of the greatest generation that ever lived needs our help and we need theirs and the best way to do that is to work together in securing their future by utilizing the skillful practice of elder law.