Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.), JD Job Prospects as Predicted by JD Degrees Per Capita:
In a May 29 post on The Legal Whiteboard, Jerry Organ of St. Thomas (Minn) projects that ABA-accredited JD matriculations will total between 38,300 and 39,900 this fall. 2013 matriculations place an approximate upper limit on 2016 degrees awarded and on the supply of JD grads at that time.
If we assume 2013 matriculations of 39,900 and historically normal attrition, law schools will award approximately 35,954 JD degrees in 2016. The last time US law schools awarded so few degrees was 1989, a quarter of a century ago:
Demand for legal services, however, probably increases as population increases. Converting the same data to degrees awarded per 100K of US population produces the following:
You will observe a downward trend between 1981 and 2001, when degrees per 100K bottomed out at 13.30. The least-squares regression line from 1981 to 2001 is of the form:
X = 136.1615 + (Year * -0.0609)
Note that this line takes into account the downward trend in per capita demand between 1981 and 2001 and therefore arguably reflects long-term changes in the structure of the legal services industry.
If this line is predictive of non-cyclical demand, non-cyclical demand for 2011 through 2016 was and will be as follows:
Non-cyclical oversupply is exacerbated by recession. It should therefore come as no great surprise that the market has been unable to absorb all recent law graduates.
By 2016, however, the per capita supply of law grads for entry-level jobs will be down by more than 25% from 2013 and more than 16% below America’s modern historic low in 2001.
Unless something truly extraordinary has happened to non-cyclical demand, a degrees-awarded-per-capita analysis suggests that beginning in fall 2015 and intensifying into 2016 employers are likely to experience an undersupply of law grads, provided that the economic recovery continues. To some extent, this will be buffered by recent oversupply. If matriculations remain at projected 2013 levels, however, once the market has absorbed the recent oversupply, a degrees-awarded-per-capita analysis suggests that long-term demand for law grads will outstrip long-term supply into the indefinite future.
- Above the Law, Decrease In Law School Applications Now Will NOT Mean A Legal Hiring Boom in 2016, by Elie Mystal
- The Faculty Lounge, Ted Seto: Law Graduate Shortage By 2016?, by Dan Filler