I came from an immigrant family as many people in my generation did, and still do. Growing up, my parents were involved in the labor movement and unemployment insurance was a big deal. In today’s context, unemployment insurance s hardly significant. But, don’t tell that to the many who are seeking this benefit and can’t crash through the long lines and busy telephone lines.
NPR did a piece today on what unemployment insurance is today and what it means.
Here are some statistics that I find fascinating, and which I did not previously appreciate. There are about 10 million unemployed workers, about half of them being in only eight states including California, Florida, Michigan and New York. There are millions more who don’t even qualify because they were self-employed or have been out of work too long ... they sort of get lost in the system.
Of the 10 million, only about 4 million are getting unemployment benefits. And 1.5 million of those recipients exhaust the money before they get another job. And the average national weekly amount is $296.17. And even if you do qualify for some benefits, the duration of the benefits is limited to about 6 months. This is hardly enough money to put food on the table for today’s lawyers, let alone provide for other family needs.
So what system, what safety net, can lawyers look to who have seen their gross revenue plummet because their clients and their prospects have seen their business opportunities “go south?” Lawyers, even those in large firms, need to pay attention to the principles of The Business of Law®. After everything is said and done, we live by our own wits ... there is no “entitlement” mentality that will provide a revenue stream; one must work and earn what we get. We must be creative in our endeavors to take advantage of the opportunities that do exist, even in a “down” economy. One of my economics professors, years ago, said that wherever there is change, there is opportunity ... the time to be really worried as a business person is when there is a static condition. It’s clear that we in changing times, more so than ever before ... That means there are opportunities; it also means that some will be hurt. The new politics will seek to soften the blow for some. But the real success will be for those who see and then take advantage of meshing their skills with the new needs and wants of clients. Perhaps this is another way to say that those who provide value to clients, and whose clients can see the value provided by their lawyers, will benefit.