Personal Plight Lawyers, Prestige, and Hierarchy

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Noel Semple recently released a fantastic article about “Personal Plight Legal Practice and Tomorrow’s Lawyers.”  He writes: “Personal plight lawyers help people negotiate with and assert legal rights against other individuals, corporations, and state bodies.”

Personal plight work may be the best option for Tomorrow’s Lawyers because many aspects cannot be off-shored or computerized. Individuals usually need someone on the ground to guide them through the legal process, a feat that is difficult to replicate through computers or a call centre.

As the famous artificial intelligence scientist Ray Kurzweil states: “what is hard for humans is easy for computers and what is hard for computers is easy for humans.” For example, toddlers intuitively pick up language but have difficulty with complex algebra. Computers on the other hand are great mathematicians but are unable to understand basic linguistic concepts. Just try asking Siri a few questions that you would ask a two year old.

Although personal plight work may be the safest option for future lawyers, the status of personal plight work deters many people from entering it. The legal profession bestows prestige upon legal work for large corporate clients, leaving a prestige deficit for personal plight lawyers.

Semple adds:

According to the “client-type thesis,” the prestige of different practice areas reflects the prestige of their clients. Because capitalist societies venerate large corporations and their executives, lawyers who work for them bask in the same glory. A second theory of prestige holds that the most “professionally pure” fields-those with the most connection to abstract legal knowledge and the least engagement with “messy” emotional or other non-legal factors-will be considered the most prestigious.’…

Susan Carle suggests that “prestige hierarchies are socially constructed through the transmission of subtle but powerful messages across professional generations.”

But who exactly is transmitting these subtle messages?

Law students tell each other stories that perpetuate the prestige deficit. But who tells the law students? Of course not one entity can be blamed. To quote Foucault “it is produced at every instant, at every point, or moreover in every relation between one point and another. Power is everywhere: not that it engulfs everything, but that it comes from everywhere.”

The power dynamics between lawyers is produced at every instant, in every relationship. Only by acknowledging the hierarchy can we start to reorganize it for the better.

Noel Semple’s article: http://bit.ly/1KjSLsF

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