The situation of the legal services markets in our country is not sufficiently analyzed, just by the main protagonists of this sector: lawyers. The report that Cassa Forense annually commissions to CENSIS, the largest Italian statistical institute, offers an overview of the progress and perception of the forensic profession in our country, but does not elaborate on many aspects that it would be fundamental to frame with the necessary scientific rigor, operating a reading of the data entrusted to specialists in the justice sector. To this lack of data, to which is therefore added an insufficient interpretation by the jurists, there is a historical inertia of the Ministry of Justice, which entrusts its statistics on jurisdiction to surveys often difficult to translate into concepts, even for a attentive observer.
The CEPEJ report, which usually, every two years, compares the situations of the European jurisdictions, while presenting an important amount of data, in a form that allows it to be studied by the operators concerned, lacks particular attention to the legal markets, to their dynamics, to the positions of those who offer the services required by lawyers.
It therefore appears urgent to implement studies that tell the markets for legal services in Italy, both to guide aspiring lawyers to the sectors with the highest performance, and to offer guidance to all operators involved in the regulation of the judicial sector. Knowing the most profitable behaviors, comparing them with the regulatory needs they need to improve efficiency, are preparatory activities for a better understanding of the juridical phenomenon, as a whole, and constitute the indispensable bases to be able to guide both the action of the legislator, both those of the lawyer.
The CENSIS report on Italian lawyers, which is now in its fourth edition in 2019, therefore represents for the sector operators the only research able to make an overall picture of the progress of the legal profession in our country. As I have already said, it is in any case a necessary, precious, yet absolutely insufficient job, both for objective deficiencies in its field of interpretation, not attributable to the data collection institute, without the specific skills capable of giving a dimension forensic politician to his observations, both for a lack of in-depth analysis on the aspects that this article briefly intends to focus on, that is, the dynamics of the legal markets, the profitability of the various areas of operation, the role of concentrations in the allocation of business and income produced in the sector legal benefits.
It is quite clear that the lack of wide-ranging studies, capable of being the basis for the discussions and reforms indispensable to Italian lawyers, which has now reached the saturation of its growth opportunities, due to the appalling massification with which it has suffered in recent years, it has contributed to dramatically lowering the regulatory response to the structural deficiencies that condemn a large part of Italian lawyers to an action now devoid of development prospects, inevitably destined for bankruptcy.
The analytical scenario that the Italian forensic profession lives within is quite grotesque, in some ways, and leaves dismayed, for some others. Italian lawyers complain, with increasing frequency, a condition of evident unsustainability of the practice of the profession, but have never reacted to the saturation of the legal markets most affected by this phenomenon with policies capable of reversing the trend and returning to a prospect of income growth and improvement of operating conditions.
The provincialism demonstrated by the political structures within the forensic class, the retreat of a large part of the components that devote themselves to forensic policy on contingent issues, lacking a medium and long-term vision, contribute even more to depressing the possibility of development and proposal that, from within the category, launch a real refoundation plan of the forensic profession, which poses itself as still, rigorous and scientific, with respect to the rules necessary to stop the decline, not only of the lawyer, but also of the Italian jurisdiction.
Yet precisely the CENSIS report, while limiting its photography to the surface of the condition of lawyers in our country, offers a series of indications that a class predisposed to the study, analysis and processing of answers should not have blatantly ignored, as instead since the approval of the reform of the legal profession, Law no. 247/2012. This law, which today can safely be included among the examples of how not to legislate, is perhaps one of the greatest examples of failed reforms. This is an absolutely inadequate regulatory body, designed for a dimension of the forensic profession anchored in archaic values, more useful in the early twentieth century than in the swirling and very fast years that we are experiencing. A law that draws the lawyer as a sort of static and moldy collector of clients, rather than pushing him to the dynamics of the contemporary world, inviting him to act as a satisfaction operator, constantly evolving and transforming his baggage of operational tools.
The result of legislation out of our time has been the proliferation of a plethora of lawyers operating in conditions that it is not an exaggeration to define medieval: lacking the knowledge necessary to complete the education of a modern problem solver, struggling with respect to computer science legal, cut out of marketing, restricted to an overcrowded and arid courtyard, where many operators, hungry and disoriented, slaughter each other for a few tufts of rotten grass.
The years that from 2012 to 2020 had to orient the forensic class to the debate on their own rebirth, on an afterthought that distorted the obvious structural weaknesses, giving the lawyers of the future the tools to be successful, strong, free and prosperous subjects, precisely because of a reform of the profession turned to the past, rather than to the coming times, between laughable and self-referential proclamations to the prestige and dignity of the profession, invocations on the alleged social role played by the lawyer, and a gigantic underestimation of the “tools of the trade”, which the young people would need, in order not to starve, among some toga, waved as a cover for programming and development failures, and a lot, too much rhetoric.
Still, it was enough to read. The CENSIS surveys faithfully report the groups in greatest income suffering: young people, women and lawyers from the south. It is clear that the dimension in which the overwhelming majority of Italian lawyers operate is unsuitable for intercepting value, and that the whole bunch of pompous values, proposed by forensic institutions, is not enough to fill a gap that is becoming more and more evident, between rich and poor, between evolved and archaic, between those who can look to the development of digital and artificial advocacy with confidence, and those who have no other hope than to wearily drag on, in ways already widely beaten, unable to lead into the sustainability of the profession.
The Italian lawyer is therefore a fiction, which behind a seemingly unique title, hides worlds that do not touch and speak. An elite, capable of prospering and progressing, and a mass of survivors, more like a group of hell than a civilized place.
The result of this divide is complex, it affects both the fake forensic class, which in reality is not such, and the rights of citizenship.
The advocacy of the rich operate in contexts where the issue of rights is almost completely dominated by interests, the agreement is the norm and conflict is the exception, efficiency generates wealth, both for clients and for lawyers.
The advocacy of the poor sinks into the mud of the state public process, between free sponsorships and hunger fees, causes that last for decades and dysfunctions of all kinds. It is a jungle where the name “justice” is little more than a name written on the geographical map, an idealized place, which could even be called “earthly paradise”, but which, when you really live it, shows all the barbarism cruelty and injustice that pervades it.
This world, in which the poor, the ordinary citizens, the children of nobody debate like flies in a jar, would need to affirm rights, even before they are interested, but it is increasingly defenseless. Italy is now the country where rights can only be claimed by the rich, while the poor who dare to claim such recognition are driven back beyond the Acheron, forced to be ashamed, to measure themselves against such a monster, to live this battle as a stigma, fire-stamped on the forehead.
Ultimately, pending other studies to shed even more light on a profession in crisis, all that remains is to rely on the merciless assessments of the fourth report on Italian lawyers, released by CENSIS in 2019, which offers these ideas for analysis on the profitability of the legal profession , as a whole:
“Using the average professional income declared for personal income tax purposes for 2017 as an indicator, the reference value for all members is 38 thousand 620 euros (table 2). This amount varies according to the main characteristics of the professionals. Without 100 the average value referred to the total, the reference income for men is 34.2% higher, while that of women is about 40 percentage points lower. In absolute terms the distance between men and women is equal to 28 thousand 470 euros. Based on age, the highest income professionals are concentrated in the 60-64 age group (in relative terms with an amount that is 80.8% higher than the average), while on the contrary, those with less than thirty years declares an income that is equal to 30.1% of the average that refers to the universe of members. There is also a large distance that separates the average income values referring to the northern regions (with an income 44.4% higher than the national figure) compared to those of the South (60.1% of the national data). In absolute terms, the difference exceeds 32 thousand euros. To confirm this, the indications referring to the regions with higher income and lower income intervene: in the first case, reference is made to Lombardy with an amount of 67 thousand 523 euros and, in the second case, to Calabria, with less than 18 thousand euros of declared income.“
This summary would be enough to guide the allocation and development choices, concentrating the support measures in the most depressed areas, acting decisively on the saturation of the legal market in the southern Italian regions and the islands, which are the poorest, where absurdly it concentrates almost half of the members of the Bar Association.
Italian forensic policy has for years been the victim of its inability to be guided by study and scientific rigor, disinterested in efficiency, because of interests in the preservation of a gerontophile and dysfunctional structure, useful only for maintaining the privileges of certain sectors of the forensic profession, but absolutely useless for the needs of young people, women and lawyers from southern Italy.
Napoli, 18 aprile 2020
Avv. Salvatore Lucignano