Some people go to law school not in the hope of making buckets of cash, but to bring justice to their communities. These people are prosecutors and public defenders, the attorneys we watch on television on episodes of Law & Order — the ones who help our society run. With long hours and low pay, being a government attorney is definitely considered a noble pursuit.
You know why you never see the ADAs on that show cry poverty? They live in New York, and they're paid a living wage.
In Massachusetts, it's a completely different story. These people expected long hours coupled with low pay, but they certainly didn't expect that they'd be paid a lower salary than the courthouse custodian, and they had no clue that they'd be members of the working poor.
Massachusetts is watching the people who clean up its lawsuits live in squalor...
In Massachusetts, government lawyers are so "grossly underpaid" that their livelihoods are "crippl[ing] them financially." How bad is it? It's horrendous, and even the Massachusetts Bar Association thinks so:
Sadly, the lowest paid person in a Massachusetts courtroom is a newly minted assistant district attorney. Working up from the bottom, the next lowest paid employee in the courthouse is the custodian. And the third lowest paid person in the courtroom is the public defender.
Perhaps a picture would make it easier to grasp how awful these people's lives are. Behold, a visual representation of how screwed ADAs and public defenders are in Massachusetts:
Jesus Christ. Why take out six figures in loan debt on a law school education when you can become a court reporter? Or a switchboard operator? Becoming a government attorney in Massachusetts is like setting your career on fire.
Government attorneys in Massachusetts don't expect to be paid a king's ransom, but "[t]hey do expect, and reasonably so, that their chosen career would compensate them sufficiently, such that they could pay off college and law school loans, afford to live away from their parents' homes, get married, buy a house, and raise a family." We'd go so far as to argue that all newly minted lawyers expect such luxuries, but sadly, there are few jobs that will allow the heavily indebted to lead normal lives, save for large law firms, where entry-level attorneys are paid $160,000.
If you still don't believe how horrible this situation is, you can click here for some real-life horror stories from Massachusetts lawyers.
The Massachusetts Bar Association recommends that starting salaries for these positions be raised to $55,000. At this point, why bother? Lawyers clean up other people's shit for a living, and it's obvious that many of them could have a more viable career sweeping courthouse floors.
Besides, given the rough state of the legal job market, we really can't be sure that Massachusetts janitors don't already have law degrees themselves.