THE LAWYER BUBBLE -- A Profession in Crisis

“The perfect book for a terrible time. If every Biglaw partner, law professor, and law school dean read this book and followed its prescriptions, we just might get our profession back on track…. Harper’s analysis is spot-on.”
—Lawyerist.com

"An important and timely book..."
--The American Lawyer

"THE LAWYER BUBBLE is a must read for managing partners, law school administrators, and most certainly, prospective law students."
--Everett Bellamy, former dean of the Georgetown Law Center, in USA TODAY.

“Harper is a seasoned insider unafraid to say what many other lawyers in his position might...written with keen insight and scathing accusations…. Harper brings his analytical and persuasive abilities to bear in a highly entertaining and riveting narrative…. The Lawyer Bubble is recommended reading for anyone working in a law related field. And for law school students—especially prospective ones—it really should be required reading.”
—New York Journal of Books

“Anyone looking into a career in law would be well advised to read this thoroughly eye-opening warning.”
—Booklist, starred review

“[Harper] is perfectly positioned to reflect on alarming developments that have brought the legal profession to a most unfortunate place…. Essential reading for anyone contemplating a legal career.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“[Harper] burns his bridges in this scathing indictment of law schools and big law firms…. his insights and admonitions are consistently on point.”
—Publishers Weekly

“The Lawyer Bubble is an important book, carefully researched, cogently argued and compellingly written. It demonstrates how two honorable callings – legal education and the practice of law – have become, far too often, unscrupulous rackets.”
—Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent and other novels

“[Harper has] a complete mastery of his subject matter, both from an economic and legal perspective…. Not only is Harper a gifted lawyer able to marshal facts, but he is an especially deft writer, and he tells his story as only a gifted author can…. Harper does not simply criticize the current state of affairs; he offers solutions, if only we are wise enough either to embrace them, modify them, or come up with additional curatives…. The Lawyer Bubble is a wake up call for those of us who love our profession, and it is a book that all lawyers should read.”
--Hon. Jeffrey Cole (USDC, ND IL) book review in "Circuit Rider," the official publication of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Bar Association (April 2013)

"Harper's book shows a deep compassion for the vocation he followed, and a hope for its return to an honorable profession."
--The Roanoke Times, Michael Ramsey, president of the Roanoke Public Library Foundation

"Any current or aspiring attorney should read the book...an indispensable guidebook to a rocky and shifting terrain."
--The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Earl Pike

"[Harper's] passion and varied experience make 'The Lawyer Bubble' a persuasive, engaging read."
--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Joshua Siebert


Forty-five thousand law students graduate each year with an average of more than $100,000 in debt. Upon graduation, only half will find jobs requiring a legal degree. Those lucky enough to land a job with a firm will find that an obsession with misguided short-term metrics has transformed a once-noble profession into just another business. They and their colleagues will face high rates of depression, and the majority will counsel their own protégés to choose a different career path.

In The Lawyer Bubble, lawyer and law professor Steven J. Harper investigates how the legal profession arrived at this crisis. He indicts the widespread fixation on rankings, the bottomless greed of equity partners, and the abdication of responsibility by law-industry leaders. In this meticulously researched and passionately argued book, Harper exposes the dirty secrets behind the legal profession’s malaise and explains what steps can be taken to repair the damage before it’s too late.

MORE REVIEWS:

“With wit and insight, The Lawyer Bubble offers a compelling portrait of the growing crisis in legal education and the practice of law. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the profession or contemplating a legal career.”
—Deborah L. Rhode, Professor of Law and Director of the Center on the Legal Profession, Stanford University

“Imagine that the elite lawyers of BigLaw and the legal academy were put on trial for their alleged negligence and failed stewardship. Imagine further that the State had at its disposal one of the nation’s most tenacious trial lawyers to doggedly build a complete factual record and then argue the case. The result would be The Lawyer Bubble. If I were counsel to the elite lawyers of BigLaw and the legal academy, I would advise my clients to settle the case.”
—William D. Henderson, Professor, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Director, Center on the Global Legal Profession

“This is a fine and important book, thoughtful and beautifully written. It makes the case – in a responsible and sober tone – that we are producing far too many lawyers for far too small a segment of American society. It is a must-read for leaders of law firms, law schools, and the bar, as the legal profession continues its wrenching transition from a profession into just another business.”
—Daniel S. Bowling III, Senior Lecturing Fellow, Duke Law School

“In this superb book, Steven Harper documents, ties together and suggests remedies for the deceit that motivates expanding law school enrollment in the face of a shrinking job market, the gaming of law school rankings and the pernicious effect of greed on the leadership of many of our nation’s leading law firms. The lessons he draws are symptomatic, and go well beyond the documented particulars.”
—Robert Helman, Partner and former Chairman (1984-98), Mayer Brown LLP; Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School

“Every sentient lawyer realizes that the legal profession is in crisis, but nobody explains the extent of the problem as well as Steven Harper. Fortunately, he also proposes some solutions – so there is still room for hope. This is an essential book.”
—Steven Lubet, author of Fugitive Justice and Lawyers’ Poker

“Steven Harper's The Lawyer Bubble is an expression of tough love for the law, law firms and the people who work in them. The clear message is take control of your destiny and your firm to avoid the serious jeopardy that confronts far too many firms today. Whether you are a partner, associate or law student, you should read this compassionate and forceful work.”
—Edwin B. Reeser, Former managing partner, author and consultant on law practice management