Some time ago I managed to attract some attention by saying that Ireland didn’t need any more lawyers. My starting point was that too many parents were pushing their children into law as a career choice, and that the glut of lawyers would make us a more and more litigious society. Now that we are experiencing an economic downturn – temporary, we hope and trust – my fear is that this trend will accelerate, as people imagine that law is a safe choice.
As I am a lawyer myself by background, I don’t want to suggest that there is anything wrong as such with wanting to be a lawyer. But while there are a number of good reasons for wanting to go into the legal profession, having the right number of points isn’t one of them. And a country that has too many lawyers pays a high price – in the cost of insurance in particular.
This country needs more people who will take risks and start things – who will be entrepreneurial and innovative. We need more start-up businesses, more social entrepreneurs, more scientific innovators, more people in independent trades. These are the people who will help us to the next level of success and prosperity. We know very well what skills are needed to achieve that, but the pattern of higher education choices doesn’t match that. This is something we shall have to address, or we shall all pay the price.