Not long ago, America's best and brightest young greedy bastards were piling into expensive law schools, confident they'd soon be wealthy older bastards. Then, law degrees became worthless. It's gotten so bad, young lawyers have resorted to doing something respectable.

The NYT reports that hotshot young would-be corporate attorneys are stuck in a world of high law school debt and newly low chances of scoring that coveted partnership as a highly-paid corporate paper-pusher-for-hire, since old lawyers aren't even retiring any more. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

With the deferral year ending, some of these newly minted lawyers are surprised to find themselves reconsidering their career goals and thinking about staying with public interest law.

Whereas it's a hallowed tradition for law school students to pay lip service to their desire to enter some do-gooder field, it's an equally hallowed tradition for those students to immediately discard those ambitions upon receiving their $140K per year entry level job at a corporate gilded prison law firm. But now it's so rough that a measurable percentage of these kids are being forced to actually become public defenders or environmental lawyers or whatever—at Stanford Law School, the third year students who "indicated a commitment to public service" climbed from 14% to 20% in just the past year.

That's one out of five future attorneys publicly proclaiming that they have a conscience! Shit must be terrible out there.

[NYT. Pic: Shutterstock. Past experience tells me attorneys are uniformly thick-skinned professionals with fine, self-deprecating senses of humor, so I fear the comments on this post will be rather barren of self-righteous proclamations of the legal profession's probity. Pity.]