Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), The Absence of Evidence for Structural Change: Growth in Lawyer Employment and Earnings:
There have been a lot of doom-and-gloom reports about layoffs and collapsing job opportunities for lawyers. As we’ve noted before, the relevant question for valuing legal education is the boost to earnings from the law degree across occupations, not the more specific question of what is happening to lawyers, or even more specifically, big law firms.
But for the sake of argument, focusing more narrowly on the under-inclusive category of lawyers only, what does the data actually show about lawyer employment? ... Lawyer employment is growing. This is true both in absolute numbers, and also relative to overall employment. In other words, lawyers are becoming a larger share of the U.S. workforce.
The practice of law is also becoming more lucrative, at least over the long term.
According to a recent draft paper by Richard Sander and E. Douglass Williams, after controlling for changes in the demographic composition of the legal profession, Sander and Williams find long-term growth in real (inflation-adjusted) lawyer earnings.
Growth in earnings and employment has been slower in recent years than in the past, to be sure, but that is generally true across the economy. The case for massive structural change in the legal profession eroding the value of a law degree is not well supported by the data.
Matt Leichter, Lawyer Employment Grows in 2014, Wages Flat:
Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) updated its Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program data for 2014, and since the topic of what the BLS programs are actually measuring came up in the context of the latest analysis on the alleged J.D. premium, now is a good time to report on the data. Here is what lawyer employment looks like over time based on various BLS measures.
... As for lawyers’ wages, they’re largely flat, but the median has fallen since 2009.