Marxist analysis of biglaw associates is a hot topic in the blawgosphere. In support of his recent post at Balkinization, David Luban now links to Douglas Litowitz's book, The Destruction of Young Lawyers which has a chapter making points quite similar to Luban's. Litowitz's short book is a bracing read -- an apocalyptic, sometimes hyperbolic, consistently insightful, often trenchant sprint through a small but prestigious region of the legal profession. In part, the book offers a radical rejection of the adversarial system and the market. In part, it offers more modest policy solutions. Quite often, Litowitz swings wildly at everything that moves. For example, in the chapter Luban cites, Litowitz suggests that we either severely reduce the number of ABA accredited schools (which, in my view, would exacerbate the problems he complains of) or completely open up the profession. For all its contradictions, virtues, and flaws, it's one of my recent favorites on the legal profession and I heartily second Luban's recommendation of it.
But, to get back to the phenomenon I noted before, we can't talk about the pyramid shape of the biglaw world without talking about the pyramid shape of US law schools. Litowitz certainly sees the connection, even if other academic critics don't mention it. Chapter 2 of his book is a thorough "trashing" of law schools. Litowitz thereby avoids the all-too-common error of analyzing the structure of private practice as if it stands wholly apart from the structure of legal education. It's not fun to bite the hand that feeds you, but if we're talking about fundamental structural change in the legal profession we have to discuss the school-firm complex.