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The Field of Law Continues to do Well

Marketplace Magazine
November 02, 2004

With so much discussion of lawsuits and tort reform, one might wonder about the general condition of the law profession. Marketplace writer Susan Currie interviewed attorney Timothy J. McCoy, a partner and member of the corporte team with Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. The firm has offices in Green Bay and Appleton. Here is an excerpt.

What is the health of the law profession in general?

Overall, the health of the legal profession is very strong. Law is a very old profession, and there will always be a social need and a role for advocates and counselors who can interpret and explain increasingly complicated systems of laws and regulations at the local, state and federal level. Every profession faces changing demands in a changing economy and society. Law is no different. Some changes are easier than others.

Is Business Law a "hot" field right now?
Corporate transactional work slowed perceptibly with the overall economy following 9/11 and the general downturn in economic activity in the United States when the economy weakened toward recession. As the economy regains speed, corporate transactional work is rapidly picking up. Mergers, acquisitions and entrepreneurial activity and investment are widely perceived to be rebounding nicely. This work follows the general economic trend, and the length of the present positive trend is dependent on the overall economy.

Are there any particular challenges being faced by lawyers?

Yes; there are a large number of challenges facing lawyers presently. These include an increasingly globalized economy and international competition, increasing competition from other professionals, the need to specialize in particular industries in order to fulfill clients’ expectations, and the need to keep pace with and leverage technological developments affecting practice management and efficiency. Various practice areas have specific concerns that may affect the particular practice area, but not all practice areas. For example, in Wisconsin, public-sector attorneys doing criminal defense and criminal prosecution work face extremely tight government budgets and generally low funding.

Is becoming an attorney still a good career path?

Yes; practicing law can be a very rewarding and challenging career. Many people find it intellectually stimulating and it can be economically rewarding. It affords the opportunity to provide services that make a real difference to people, businesses and government. A law degree is a good springboard for an extremely wide variety of careers, some of which are traditional in the sense that one practices law in a private-practice firm. However, a very large number of lawyers end up with professional careers that use the traditional skills lawyers learn in law school – critical thinking, excellent writing skills, advocacy skills, and an understanding of the role that laws and regulatory frameworks play in our society. Few lawyers become wealthy, but all good lawyers always have the satisfaction of helping their clients achieve their goals.

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