State Bar Association president gives advice to aspiring lawyers

November 26, 2012

LIMA — Being a lawyer is not as glamorous as portrayed on television and can be very costly with a student loan debt approaching $100,000 for many, the president of the state bar association said Monday.

Making a loan payment sometimes more than $1,000 a month while trying to pay other living costs can be enormous for a new attorney, said Ohio State Bar Association President Patrick Fischer during a stop in Lima.

“That’s a mortgage,” he said. “It’s a burden of unbelievable proportion because there are not enough jobs.”

Fischer, a state appellate court judge from Hamilton County, spoke at the Ohio State Bar Association’s district meeting in Lima.

Fischer said there are twice as many law school graduates as there are jobs available. On top of that, new lawyers will be lucky to make $40,000 to $65,000 a year.

He said anyone going to law school better be doing it for the right reasons, not for the glamour portrayed on television or to get rich.

“Make sure it’s the profession you want to do. Don’t go in it for the money. Go in because you care about the rule of law,” he said.

Fischer, a Harvard law school grad who has had a highly successful career, said being a lawyer can be very rewarding. He shared a joke he has with friends who are doctors.

“I always joke with them 200 years ago they were bleeding people with leeches while we were writing the Constitution,” he said.

Also at the event, three local attorneys were honored for 50 or more years in the law profession.

Don Witter, a member of a Lima firm, joked he would tell younger attorneys that 50 years was a long time to work as a lawyer. “Plan to retire after about 40.”

Bill Vandemark, a member of a Lima firm, thanked his secretary of more than 35 years and his wife. “I couldn’t have made with without the support of these lovely ladies.”

Edward Noble, a member of a St. Marys firm, hit on Fischer’s theme about the difficulties starting out. He came back to St. Marys after graduating in 1947 from the University of Michigan law school.

“I came back from law school, hung up a shingle and said here I am, public, come and see me. The only one who came to see me was the book salesman,” Noble said.