Saturday, July 17, 2010

Say It Ain't So Andy; Gammill to Leave the Star to Go To Law School

Don't count me as a fan of Indianapolis Star's education reporter Andy Gammill. After the stunt he pulled that resulted in getting members of an education reform group videotaping an IPS meeting booted, Gammill should have been at least been suspended. However, after reading on Ruth Holladay's blog that Gammill intends to leave journalism to go to law school, I'd like to offer him a piece of advice - do NOT do it.

I know what Gammill is thinking - newspapers are cutting back on jobs, reporters' salaries are getting cut and those who continue to work end up churning out superficial story after story with constant deadlines. So why not go to law school and get on a more profitable career track?

If Gammill thinks his salary and employment prospects are going to be better as an attorney he will almost certainly be disappointed. There are about 500 new attorneys entering the legal profession every year in Indiana. I tell people to go online and look at the job board for open legal positions. Usually there are five or six Indiana attorney jobs advertised. In the Indiana Lawyer, often there are no openings listed. Do the math. The odds are not good.

I know a 15 year attorney who was doing typing for another attorney to make ends meet. I know an attorney who worked loading packages on the back of a UPS truck because he couldn't get a job in the legal field. A few years ago, I ran into a law school classmate of mine, an attorney who was working the cash register at a computer store. I know a postal carrier and semi-truck driver who went to law school, passed the bar and then returned to their former professions because those jobs paid a lot better than the law.

The sad thing is that many of these new lawyers have amassed huge amounts of debt in law school, sometimes as much as six figures. They are promised by law schools they'll get comfortable salaries and instead find themselves working, if they can get a job, for $30,000 a year with no benefits.

I often get asked whether law is a good background for other fields. It's actually an excellent background. However, non-legal employers don't see it that way. If you have a legal background, they will pigeonhole you as an attorney and say you're overqualified." The lawyer won't be hired for a non-lawyer job because of the misplaced belief that the person would leave and get a six figure legal job, jobs which don't exist. So don't be thinking that law degree will open the door to other fields.

I don't know how much Gammill makes as a Star reporter. But if he thinks he's going to get out of law school and make more money as a lawyer than as a writer for the Star, he's almost certainly going to be disappointed. And paid benefits as a lawyer? Yeah, good luck with that one.

Gammill could turn out to be one of the lucky ones. I always tell new lawyers that if they're going to enter the profession, they have to develop a niche, an expertise that other lawyers can't bring to the table. If a general practitioner, that lawyer is little different than virtually everyone else in the field. Maybe Gammill could use his journalism background to go into some sort of journalism law that will make him stand out from the hundreds of other attorneys out there looking for a job. I'm not optimistic it will happen but it could. Best of luck to him.


Diana Vice said...

This is a no brainer. Andy saw how school attorneys are getting rich off taxpayers, so he probably wanted a piece of the action. With all his connections in the education racket, he's a likely shoe-in. I'm sure the folks at IPS love him for making sure the tax watchdogs were outed for attending the meeting they were kicked out of.

I know said...

Paul, You and I have talked about this before and AI clearly has called out the honest and ethical attorney having a hard time making a living in Indiana.

I have not followed Mr. Gammill but I would suffice to say if he follows the "Attorney's" in Indianapolis who are raping the taxpayers and getting paid in the back room or under the table by using the other side of the law then anyone including Gammill would see the "lucrative" reasons to go to Law school.

Even those of us you have been completely destroyed by this same group of 'upstanding" citizens in the legal world who seem to have no restraints or checks and balanced to follow the law they went to school for clearly understand the greed, power and intimidation the Indianapolis legal profession has on everyone.

I am surprised more of the media members in Indianapolis do not go to law school. In some cases, and we know who they are, a law degree in Indiana and in Indianapolis is a free ride for unethical, illegal and downright nasty behavior.

Maybe he has determined if you can't beat em, join em.

All I can say is thank you to the few of you that still practice the "LAW" while taking the rude and stupid comments coming from other "professionals". Some of us still hope for the blind lady of justice to prevail.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Since when is actual experience and knowledge about how schools important criteria for schools to hire an attorney? You assume he's just going to be able to pull a B&T's Qualkinbush and hook onto big education clients even though he has meager legal skill and knowledge. I have doubts it will be that easy for Gammill.

I Know, sorry to disagree, but the problem with salaries and employment in law has very little to do with ethics and virtually everything to do with hundreds of attorneys chasing a handful of jobs. There are a lot of dishonest attorneys out there who are unemployed or making $30k a year if that.

Had Enough Indy? said...

He could go into 'school' law. They don't care what an attorney's hourly rate is, since its not their money they are spending.

Nicolas Martin said...

Is there a minimum amount of money attorneys are supposed to earn? End licensing, abolish the legal cartel, and let's see how much they earn in a free market.