Are There Too Many Lawyers?

When there are too many policemen, there can be no liberty.
When there are too many soldiers, there can be no peace.
When there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice.

Lin Yutang (1895-1976), Chinese-American writer, translator, and editor.

Just the other day I received a telephone call from a gentleman who had been perusing our Power of web-site. He seemed very frustrated in his futile attempts to compile a list of law firms who were involved in class action litigation. In an email he forwarded a little later, he stated, “This information is not readily available, as you can imagine.”

I can imagine all right. Trying to get a handle on the number of lawyers running all over the place is a next to an impossible task, since there are lawyers operating in virtually nook and cranny in the United States. And to make determining the number of lawyers a bit more difficult, they seem to be multiplying faster than rabbits on the make.

But there's one thing for certain about the number of lawyers in America and it is this -- there is no shortage of them. In fact, one could reasonably argue that there are too many lawyers lurking in America.

Let’s take a closer look.

In 1995, the American Bar Foundation pegged the number of lawyers in the United States at 896,000. More recently, estimates from varying sources places the number at around 1,000,000 lawyers in America. ONE MILLION LAWYERS! One million people is a whole lot of folks, but one million lawyers looking for someone to sue – YIKES!

In a survey conducted back in 1972 by the American Bar Association, seventy percent of Americans not only didn’t have a lawyer, they didn’t know how to find one. That’s right, thirty years ago the vast majority of people didn’t have a clue on how to find a lawyer. Now it’s almost impossible not to see lawyers everywhere you turn. They’re in our face all over the place.

Lawyers pound their relentless “sue onto others before they sue unto you” mantra 24/7. From their trash talking commercials on TV, where lunatic lawyers hoot and holler about how they’ll fight for your rights to the countless tawdry billboard ads, trashy newspaper announcements and tasteless yellow page advertisements – lawyers are everywhere you look. Boy, I’d say that things have definitely changed since 1972 – and not for the better I hasten to add.

OK, I’ll grant you that there is and always be a market for lawyers to ply their trade. But come on, do we really need lawyers asking us, “Have you been injured?” a thousand times a day? Hardly.

With a million lawyers, give or take a few thousand, filing millions upon millions of lawsuits monthly, America in leaving the rest of the world in its litigation dust. Lawyers have finally positioned us right where they want us – busily scurrying all around looking for all sorts of inventive new ways to sue somebody over something or another. Suing has become the American way of life or at least so it seems.

Where innovation, creativity and ingenuity were once the magnificent cornerstones of America’s entrepreneurial drive and spirit, these precepts are now merely platitudes hundreds of thousands of trial lawyers manipulate daily while seeking out innovative, creative and ingenious ways to sue the pants off those around us.

Interesting, isn’t it, that lawyers amass their fortune through the redistribution of the existing wealth of others, rather than by creating wealth through their own entrepreneurial efforts? In other words, they rob from the rich, the poor and everyone else in between and give the loot to themselves. Now that’s quite a gig they’ve got working for them, isn’t it?

Nowhere but America are the individuals and companies who create business, create jobs and create opportunity so relentlessly hammered by lawyers left and right.

Now that’s not to say that American lawyers do not do some creating in their own right. After all, the lawyers regularly create chaos, create acrimony and create quite a nice cash flow for themselves. I don’t know who authored the old saying that possession was nine tenths of the law, but it had to be a lawyer.

So do we or don’t we, as a nation, have too many lawyers. I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

The U.S. has seventy percent of the world’s lawyers but only five percent of the world’s population,

U.S. industry spends hundreds of billion dollars annually on litigation costs and efforts to avoid liability,

We have thirty times more lawsuits than Japan, one of America’s primary trade competitors,

Product innovation in America has been drastically curtailed due to overwhelming liability concerns,

The health care industry, one of the trial lawyers favorite targets, have costs that are spiraling out of sight, leaving many Americans underinsured or uninsured, and

The costs of virtually every good and service has an increased cost, reflecting the cost of rampant litigation in this country.

Yet in spite of the immense wealth being efficiently siphoned from the wallets of each and every American into the bloated bankrolls of avaricious lawyers nationwide, the legal industry is awash in business.

In today’s sue or be sued society, people are flocking to lawyers in droves. Americans are turning to lawyers to right every wrong or make everything right again, suing virtually anyone who can fog a mirror.

So even though lawyers suffer approval ratings well below even the sleaziest of used car salesmen and are the butt of a never ending barrage of lawyer jokes, lawyers are still swamped with clients.

In America, where anyone can sue anybody over anything anytime they feel like it, business for lawyers has never been better. Never.

With all of the idiotic, nonsensical lawsuits that continually clog our court system and the stratospheric awards lame brain judges and juries are handing out, it seems like everyone is trying to cash in on the next lawsuit lottery.

With millions and billions of dollars for the taking, everyone wants a piece of the action and nobody it seems wants to be left out in the cold.

Lawsuits, conflicts, fighting, fusing and fuming now rule the day while the lawyers, not surprisingly, rule the roost. So when it is all said and done (and with lawyers, more is always said than done), maybe we don’t have enough lawyers after all.

I think I’m going to get sick.

Hey, if you’ve got a goofy lawsuit you’d like to pass on to us, simply click Stupid Lawsuits and Other Funny Stuff and we’ll add yours to our ever growing list of stupid lawsuits.

And while you’re at in, why not take a few moments and check out our growing collection of Funny Lawyer Quotes, Jokes and Cartoons?

It’s Time to Wake Up and Smell the Lawyers Book: If you haven’t read our highly acclaimed book, you’re missing out on a load of information about America’s legal system – and a load of laughs as well. You can read excerpts taken from the book by clicking book chapter summaries here.

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