These days, it’s a familiar theme. The cost of living keeps rising – while take home earnings go down.

Today I noticed gas prices at the pump rose 10 cents per gallon, overnight in South Jersey. They had risen 6 cents per gallon from the night before, for a total of 16 cents in less than 48 hours. That’s a steep incline and I don’t imagine that will slow down any time soon.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 9.12.11 PMMeanwhile, I noticed another dramatic change today, a steep decline in the going hourly rate that agencies are paying attorneys to review documents for their clients, presumably for discovery for various types of matters. Last week the same agency was paying a minimum of $29. Today a whopping $25 per hour – flat. $200 less in take home pay per week for ten hour days (which is usual for projects like these).

For a comparison, a skilled graphic designer (with or without an undergraduate degree) often commands $50 an hour and usually gets overtime.

That means those who bothered going to college and thereafter law school, have nothing to show for it but a jumbo student loan (usually upwards of $100,000) and half the hourly wage of someone who spent 7 years less of their lives “learning.”

It also means that the price of gas and everything else on this wretched planet has gone up that much more relative to the income doc review attorneys are commanding in this “free” market economy.

Think about that before you or a friend or a relative dives into law school thinking there are great paying jobs when school’s out. That was then, in the 90’s. This is now. If an attorney wants to make a living in this market, they either have to litigate, preferably against deep pocket defendants, and charge their clients an arm and a leg, or do transactional work for midsize or large corporations, the only clients who can afford to pay a decent rate.

Those are the attorneys who get paid a decent rate. Everyone else is squeezed for their labor by unscrupulous “agencies” and paid only as much as they can command in a market awash with debt-strapped contract attorneys, who can’t afford to live without steady pay.

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