Student Debt (Continuation)

Add to this a less-than-stellar job market, a glut of new st petersburg family law attorneys, and a stagnant pay level for young attorneys just starting out.  I know there is a good reason for the “Golden Rule” argument being inappropriate in a closing argument, but it is perfectly applicable here.  What would you do in their shoes?  How much pressure would you be under if you were contacted by a divorce lawyer that needed an answer immediately?  How much stress would you be carrying in addition to the stress you are already routinely under?  I am not speaking ill of these young lawyers.  The ones I have met appear to be dedicated to the profession and quite qualified.


Student Debt

I do not wish to be known as a doomsayer.  That said, we have a ticking time-bomb in our profession.  If we fail to recognize this and act, I fear there will be grave consequences.  Some divorce attorneys attempt to go out on their own, and sometimes they fail trying to run a law practice.  The issue is student loan debt of new attorneys (an example of doing it the right way is here  It is not unusual for me to hear from new lawyers, or to read in journals, that young lawyers are graduating law school with $100,000 to $180,000 in law school debt.  Think about this: What would your current life be like if your net worth was negative $180,000?  No one would issue you a line of credit.  No one would offer you a mortgage on a modest home.  Even the ubiquitous credit card companies would be reluctant to extend any credit to you.  You have to have transportation and appropriate attire.  You have to pay Bar fees and for CLE seminars.  Do you want a marriage and children?  You cannot afford them.

Small Steps to Change a Life

To break the teen car theft cycle, a social worker helps with basic needs: food, shelter, jobs.  But will it work?

They knew something had gone wrong, but they weren’t sure what, climbing back into the car outside of the courthouse.  This is where it might be handy to know an attorney for child custody case, or an attorney specializing in child custody.  The kid has his phone pressed to his ear; he was trying to reach his probation officer.  It rang and rang but she didn’t pick it up.  She had told him he had court that morning, he said, but when they asked the clerk, nothing was scheduled.  The kid hung up and dialed again.  Adam turned the key in the ignition, shaking his head.  “Isn’t she the one who usually takes you to court?” he asked.  “She doesn’t work today.  No wonder she’s not picking up.”  This was the whole reason Adam Sheppard was here, driving a 16 year-old-boy he’d only met a few weeks ago to and from the courthouse.  If Adam didn’t, no one else would.  His parents weren’t in the picture, as at one point, each was looking for a divorce lawyer.  His grand-mother didn’t own a car, declined to take the bus.  The kid didn’t have cab money.  So Adam turned onto Ulmerton Road, steering back to the St. Petersburg shelter where the boy lived.  For the first time, the county’s mental health agency is working with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to address the underlying problems that lead teens to commit crimes.  The pilot program in Pinellas Park comes in the wake of “Hot Wheels,” a Tampa Bay Times series documenting a dangerous juvenile auto theft epidemic in Pinellas County.  Adam is a part-time social worker with Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services, or PEMHS & also is a full time legal assistant to divorce lawyers for men.  The first “navigator” for the pilot, he’s holding together an experiment that local officials hope will save lives and make the area safer.  For this program to work, Adam will have to tackle much more than rides to court—issues of abuse, unemployment, drugs, homelessness–the spiraling problems of poverty that loom so large and leak everywhere until they feel undefeatable.  But if things are ever going to get better, he’s got to try.  What if they say, “I wasn’t in Court?” the boy asked him, bending his stick-like arms to smooth his hair.  Trust me, it won’t happen, someone responded.  He looked over at the kid, for just a second, then pulled onto the highway.  I’ll call the judge myself, if I have to.