Let’s just come right out and say it. Although our profession will rise again, right now being a lawyer just isn’t quite as cool as it used to be. Of course, people have thrown darts at lawyers since Shakespeare. But consider where things stand in today’s popular culture. Twenty years ago, Aaron Sorkin in “A Few Good Men” gave us Tom Cruise as a heroic JAG officer whose brilliant legal skills famously cracked Jack Nicholson on the witness stand. Now Sorkin, in the HBO hit “The Newsroom,” has created a lawyer who cares only about her billing rate and is described as part of a “godless, soulless race of extortionists.”
Such observations would be suitable mostly for entertainment magazines if they did not correspond with double-digit declines in the number of people applying to U.S. law schools during each of the past three years. This trend is expected to continue in 2014, and the dip is even more pronounced among applicants from elite universities.