Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

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Oscar Talk: Why Movie Stars Make More Money Than Lawyers.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | February 28, 2011

No. 587

Why do movie stars make so much money?  Very simple.  They have so many people paying them.

When drama was on stage, rather than on film, the compensation of the actor was limited by the number of people in the audience.  The same was true of singers and other entertainers, like baseball players.  Now they play to audiences of millions.  That’s the whole deal.

Not all jobs are capable of such technological multiplication. With the advent of cyberschools, teaching may become one of them.  Instead of having a large number of ordinary teachers making ordinary money, we may eventually have a relative handful of talented cyber-teachers making movie star money.  Are we as a society better off in the latter case?  With the exception of laid off teachers, yes.  The lectures will be better and in the aggregate, cheaper. (If a cyber-lecture is not better, somebody with a better lecture to sell will probably displace it.)

And what about lawyers?  Can there be super-lawyers paid for the same performance by a clientele of millions, or even thousands? Not really.  Class actions may have the capability of creating a mass clientele.  But they involve such a small segment of the legal service market that they really don’t count.  And a few firms can create a mass clientele for a particular type of case through marketing and then create efficiencies through scale  — like personal injury or mortgage foreclosure factories. But even this kind of lawyering, to be done properly,  requires service to clients on an individual basis.  At best, only a tiny segment of law practice is capable of generating the kind of economies found in the entertainment business.

Actually, that’s good news for lawyers.  Clients still need our individual attention.


CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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