May It Please The Court

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About J. Craig Williams

May It Please The Court
by Leonard Rivkin
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Quote of the Day - So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.' - Steve Jobs
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Hey Congress, How Much Is That Judge In The Window?

Don't get me wrong here:  law is every bit as much of a business as it is a profession.  A service profession, mind you.  But hold that thought for a moment.

The top 100 US law firms made $46 billion last year.  That's billion with a capital B.

In those top law firms, lawyers work night and day since it is, after all, a service profession and they're "selling" hours, not widgets.  On average, though, partners in those law firms make over $1 million each.

On the other hand, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts makes $212,000, with the rest of the court, and other federal judges less than that.  In California, most state court judges make under $150,000. 

Without getting into the argument what teachers, firefighters, police and for that matter, members of Congress are worth, let's stick with the law.  After all, police and firefighters just put their lives on the line, and teachers, well, teachers ... they just educate our children. 

On the other hand, I think members of Congress and other politicians should pay money to the IRS to serve in either the Senate or the House.  That would certainly solve a lot of problems, but I'm getting off track.  Let's look at the quality of justice we're complaining about and complaining about.

Very few private lawyers in top firms, or for that matter lawyers in successful mid-size or small firms would seriously consider becoming a judge.  I know.  I've talked to them.  I'm one of them, and I wouldn't.

Why not?  It's not just the pay cut, but the benefits we get in private practice.  The government doesn't match those numbers.

But is the solution paying more?  Would paying judges the same as top lawyers entice those lawyers to take the bench in record numbers?  As one who's been asked by several judges to seek either election or ask the Governator, I'd consider it given an equivalent paycheck.  Most others I've talked to would, too.

But raising pay for judges is as likely as a pay raise for teachers, firefighters and police.  As a society, we don't reward those jobs.  We reward golfers and businesses that produce a lot of widgets.  Until we change that attitude, there will always be a pay disparity, and we'll keep complaining about the quality of justice, teaching and public service jobs.

Otherwise, you're going to have to write your representative in Congress.  They don't want to do anything.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, July 09, 2007 at 22:28 Comments (0)


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