Paul L. Caron

Friday, May 31, 2013

Law Graduate Overproduction and Lawyers Per Capita by State

Matt Leichter has updated the data in his two ongoing research projects:

This page tracks law graduate overproduction as of 2011 by contrasting state government lawyer job creation projections with ABA graduate data from the Law School Admissions Council. ... Here’s a chart of the results, the numbers in parentheses are the number of ABA-accredited law schools operating in 2011.  ...

# State Annual Job Openings ABA Grads Annual Surplus Grads Per Opening
1 Mississippi (2) 30 316 286 10.53
2 Puerto Rico (3) 100 678 578 6.78
3 Michigan (5) 320 2,072 1,752 6.48
4 Delaware (1) 60 252 192 4.20
5 Nebraska (2) 70 283 213 4.04
6 Vermont (1) 50 175 125 3.50
7 Mass. (7) 700 2,288 1,588 3.27
8 Indiana (4) 270 818 548 3.03
9 Oregon (3) 180 537 357 2.98
10 Louisiana (4) 270 797 527 2.95

This page uses the number of attorneys “active and resident” according to the “ABA’s National Lawyer Population by State” count (NLPS) and population figures by state from the U.S. Census Bureau via FRED (Puerto Rico’s is from one year earlier from the World Bank). The NLPS does not tell us the number of inactive or nonresident attorneys, but the Lawyer Statistical Report calculates those at 4.8 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively. To give you a comparison: for the 1.2 million attorneys on the rolls in 2012, between 1970 and 2011 the ABA conferred just over 1.5 million law degrees, though only about 728,200 people were employed as lawyers in 2010. ...

Number of Active & Resident Lawyers Per Capita (2012)

The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are counted as states.

# State Population Lawyers Lawyers Per 10,000 Residents
1 D.C. 632,323 51,271 810.84
2 New York 19,570,261 163,798 83.70
3 Mass. 6,646,144 42,483 63.92
4 Connecticut 3,590,347 20,842 58.05
5 Illinois 12,875,255 60,069 46.65
6 New Jersey 8,864,590 40,997 46.25
7 Minnesota 5,379,139 23,774 44.20
8 California 38,041,430 159,824 42.01
9 Missouri 6,021,988 24,276 40.31
10 Colorado 5,187,582 20,768 40.03

Update:  From Mississippi dean (and Tax Prof) I. Richard Gershon:

Recently, information regarding the legal job market in Mississippi was published by American Lawyer magazine. Though we appreciate their effort to report candidly our state’s employment situation, the statistics reported are not accurate. You referred to this data on TaxProf.

The source the author used to compile the article’s chart, Career One Stop, lists only 30 new lawyer jobs annually for Mississippi. Career One Stop cites the Mississippi Department of Employment Security for this number, who, upon closer inspection, actually lists 165 annual legal job openings in Mississippi:

This is much more representative of our situation, even though it does not include judges, hearing officers, arbitrators, judicial law clerks and others in the legal profession.

In addition, if you re-calculate our number based on the Mississippi Department of Employment Security’s correct information, we have a ratio of 1.92 graduates to job openings, which is equivalent to other states’ job opening rates across the Southeast, and is an even better rate than states of similar size.

In light of this, we’d like to kindly ask for this information to be clarified and corrected. The data published currently is uncharacteristic of the opportunities we have here for students and legal professionals, and we’d like to continue to promote our sound legal education and job environment.  Today, the Law School Tuition Bubble even published a semi-retraction.

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I thought the article was about number of state government lawyer jobs per year, not total lawyer jobs?

Posted by: Ralph Brill | Jun 4, 2013 7:50:53 PM

You could also measure the number of people who take and pass the bar exam; that would at give you a better idea of who is searching for jobs in the state (versus having graduated there but working elsewhere, or graduated elsewhere and working there). I doubt that the numbers would be much different.

Posted by: bridget | Jun 2, 2013 3:04:07 PM

The newly predatory lawyers should sue each other. They'll all get rich quick.

Posted by: PacRim Jim | Jun 2, 2013 12:10:25 PM

Great surplus of lawyers in Mass., and still a group of us in Mass. who believe we are crime victims can't get a lawyer to take our large case on contingency.

Posted by: Mass. reader | Jun 2, 2013 11:44:33 AM

Yes, because no one from outside Massachusetts comes to work in the state, which after all is the sixth or seventh largest legal market in the country. [rolls eyes] Also, there is now about 1 attorney for every 63 people in the state, which trails only NY and DC for lawyers-per-capita.

Posted by: Unemployed_Northeastern | May 31, 2013 4:29:25 PM

Garbage In, Garbage Out. The DC number (51,271) includes a lot of lawyers who commute from Maryland and Virginia to jobs in D.C., as well as DC Bar members who practice elsewhere in the country.

The Massachusetts # of law school grads vs. law jobs is also meaningless as most grads of Harvard and a fair number of BU/BC grads take jobs in New York City and points further south.

Posted by: Robert Gould | May 31, 2013 7:28:52 AM

Seriously? You think that just because companies possess a paper filing in Delaware that they have a physical presence beyond a PO Box and an empty cubicle? By that theory, then, there must be vast swarms of office towers in the Caymans and Bermuda...

Posted by: Unemployed_Northeastern | May 31, 2013 6:39:03 AM

Mississippi has only 30 openings for lawyers a year? And Delaware, which has over half of the Fortune 500 incorporated there, only 60? This isn't very impressive "research."

Posted by: anon | May 31, 2013 4:29:56 AM