Because Lawyers are a Target of Occupy Wall Street


Over at Above the Law, columnists Elie Mystal and Staci Zaretsky have been downright hostile toward folks involved in the protests known as Occupy Wall Street, which seems to be slowly and steadily developing into a real movement. CNN reports today that more unions are joining the protests and that efforts are underway for other “Occupy” cities and for a Global Day of Action. But at Above the Law, generally the most trafficked legal blog in the country, Mistal and Zaretsky have dismissed the protests as “ludicrous,” “barely newsworthy,” made up of “hippies and kids,” “fools,” and “crazies.” Fair enough. But that’s also what Fox News likes to call poor folks who are out to make some pretty salient points about the extraordinary gap between the “one percent” and the “other 99 percent.

For protests that have now been growing slowly over the past three weeks, and possibly spreading to other parts of the country, ATL’s dismissive tone is actually beginning to be humorous, if not a bit self-righteous. After all, ATL at times seems to bill itself as a champion of unemployed law students bogged down by extraordinary debt. Then again, ATL loves to scoop up endless stories about large law firm bonuses paid annually to well-employed big firm associates. The economic gap widens even among lawyers, especially if you are unemployed, broke, and now heavily indebted. No wonder that those who are young, alienated, and have nothing really left to lose, are out on the street, including some law students.

Maybe ATL’s dismissive tone can be explained by the silliness of some of the protesters and their demands (e.g., removing Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill). Or maybe Mistal and Zaretksy don’t know what to make of street protests that are, by frequent definition, sloppy and initially unfocused. But, maybe, just maybe, it’s because big firm lawyers are some of the obvious and convenient targets of the protests. As in megafirm attorneys who do soul-crushing work of protecting money and moving it to the right interests. Not illegal mind you, at least for the most part, but true moneyed interests nevertheless, and the kind of big firm readers that ATL loves but that protesters on Wall Street generally have in their sights. Maybe that explains it.

What do you think? Is Occupy Wall Street “ludicrous” and “barely newsworthy.” Or is it something larger, worth following, even worth joining or supporting, whether as a human being or as a lawyer (like this guy has done)?

(Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kapkap/6189131120)

Gregory Luce is the editor of Bitter Lawyer. He creates stuff and writes various columns, including Legal Crap My Kids Ask Me, Ask a Futurist, and Postcards from Lawyers.

5 Comments

  1. Karen

    October 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I am going to the OccupyMN protest on Friday. The demands on that site, taken from the OccupyWallStreet protests, do not include taking Andrew Jackson off the $20.00 bill. The demands are here: http://www.occupymn.org/about/demands/

    The demands are unfocused. I was perplexed why the first one was about Troy Davis. While I am against capital punishment and abhore how that execution was carried out, I don’t see these protests as being the place to address that. But still, the protests are important, as are the demands (even the ones that seem out of place). I think the protests mark the tipping point….where people are finally speaking out and saying enough, just as they have done in other countries and around the world.

    It is about time and time to end corporate corruption!!!

    • Ellen

      October 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      FOOEY on you! I worked hard for my JD DEGREE, so I am NOT sympethitic to some loosers who want ME to give my pay to them.

      FOOEY!

  2. Gema

    October 5, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Say what you will about them being crazy hippies; I think they have a pretty valid point: the wealth disparity in this country is just about as high as it has ever been and the economic collapse was caused by those on the gilded side of it. The 1% are at fault, yet the 99% have been hurt the most.

  3. Evil Lawyer

    October 6, 2011 at 10:16 am

    The protests are silly. They are like a child’s tantrum.

    Go occupy a univerisity or a law school: they’ve raised tuition and fees way over inflation. And for what? So their professors can retire with a pension at 50! Saddling kids with seemingly never to be repaid loans for jobs that aren’t there.

    The housing bust upsets you? Go occupy the offices of the big brokers who stoked the housing boom, while pocketing outsize commissions.

    Yeah, I really want to be just like all the other countries in the world: broker than we are, with some stupid parlimentary system that cuts people out of the voting for good, and importing their TV and movies from us. No thanks.

    I’ll take the turmoil, the tumult the tabloid media and people like Steve Jobs.

  4. Knute Rife

    October 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Elie Mystal is a Mets fan. His arguments are invalid.

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