Paul L. Caron
Dean




Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Evidence Shows Most Lawyers Continue To Have Profitable, Fulfilling Careers (In Texas)

TexasTexas Lawyer: Evidence Shows Most Lawyers Continue to Have Profitable, Fulfilling Careers, by Milan Markovic (Texas A&M):

The one reliable longitudinal study that has been conducted does not support the view of lawyers as miserable and debt-ridden. The After the JD study followed a representative cohort of law school graduates from the class of 2000 and found that the vast majority were satisfied with their decisions to become lawyers. Debt load had no effect on career satisfaction, and nearly half of the lawyers in the cohort paid off all of their debt by 2012.

Of course, the class of 2000 graduated into a better economy and paid less tuition than more recent classes. Nevertheless, while more rigorous longitudinal research is needed, the recession appears to have not impeded attorneys' long-term prospects.

The State Bar of Texas conducts an income survey of its nearly 100,000 members. The most recent survey was conducted in 2013 and provides median incomes for full-time lawyers by the number of years they have been licensed. The median income for lawyers in private practice who have been licensed for two years or less is $69,238. This figure rises to $99,152 for lawyers licensed for three to six years.

These lawyers began their careers in the aftermath of the recession, and their incomes will not plateau for many years. Some will transition to more lucrative in-house legal positions. Those who remain in private practice can also expect further income growth. The median incomes for all lawyers engaged in full-time private practice in Texas is $123,982. Lawyers who have been licensed for twenty-five years or more enjoy a median income of $172,825. ...

Of course, many lawyers do not work in private practice or in-house for corporations. Every career comes with some risk, and the disappointment of some new lawyers is all too real. Nevertheless, the legal profession has survived the recession, and the available evidence indicates that most lawyers continue to have profitable and fulfilling careers.

(Hat Tip: Gary Lucas.)

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/11/evidence-shows-most-lawyers-continue-to-have-profitable-fulfilling-careers.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

Ditto what jojo said. There is still an ENORMOUS GLUT, a huge oversupply, on the market. Demand has not stopped falling.

Posted by: Beldar | Nov 10, 2015 2:52:51 PM

So anon, you think a survey that gets a 12% response rate and reflects approximately 25% of the 2 years or less cohort is an accurate picture of income? Maybe it does, but if you put this survey on the witness stand, I bet any undergrad that had passed a statistics classroom could make a jury question its conclusions.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 10, 2015 11:26:16 AM

To be explicit, since so many of our anonymous law school defenders have quite poor statistical comprehension, what all that means is that we know that of the 9,000 recent bar passers when that study was conducted, 1/2 of 1,123 said they made $69,238 or more per year. That's 561 lawyers out of >9,000, or 6%.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 10, 2015 10:44:23 AM

@Anon,

1. "Full-time"

2. "In private practice"

3. "Active bar membership"

4. "Who did not opt out of surveys"

5. That 2013 survey had a mighty 12% response rate: https://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Demographic_and_Economic_Trends&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=27265

6. >3,000 people pass the TX bar each year for ~2,100 jobs. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/the-lawyer-surplus-state-by-state/?_r=1. So for lawyers with 0-1,1, or 2 years' legal experience, that is a cohort of some 9,000+ individuals. Do you know how many gave their salary information in that survey? 1,123. Whadda you know? That's also a 12% response rate!

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 10, 2015 10:40:37 AM

I'd also add some data-driven subtlety that's ignored by the "enroll as many as you can, never been a better time" touts.

In 1997, when the class of 2000 enrolled, there were 42,000 matriculants. In 2010, there were 10,000 more -- 52,000 matrics.
http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_education_and_admissions_to_the_bar/statistics/enrollment_degrees_awarded.authcheckdam.pdf

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Law can be a very good, very honorable, very important profession for about 35,000 matrics per annum, or it can be a very bad, very cut-throat, very marginal short term job for a nontrivial percentage of 50,000+ per year.

We had a glut. We still are dealing with the effects of the glut. It's become expensive to get into the legal profession. Debt has increased, notwithstanding scholarships and discounting. It's bad out there, and it won't get better until the pig in the python works its way through. I hope that in 10 years, there are 30 or 40 fewer schools and that the 25,000 to 30,000 students per annum serve their clients and society well and are able to earn the equivalent of $65,000+ consistently.

Posted by: Jojo | Nov 10, 2015 9:41:42 AM

Survivorship bias, and I'm not going to register just to read the article, but is the response rate even disclosed?

Posted by: Lonnie | Nov 10, 2015 7:55:07 AM

Do you all not read before posting the exact same critiques every time?

"The most recent survey was conducted in 2013 and provides median incomes for full-time lawyers by the number of years they have been licensed. The median income for lawyers in private practice who have been licensed for two years or less is $69,238. This figure rises to $99,152 for lawyers licensed for three to six years.

These lawyers began their careers in the aftermath of the recession..."

So, Unemployed NE and Daniel, your critiques are off base.

Posted by: anon | Nov 10, 2015 7:47:38 AM

*Gauchos

Posted by: Cent Rieker | Nov 10, 2015 7:45:14 AM

In-state tuition at University of California schools was basically $3,500 a year when from 1999 to 2003. My debt was basically $14,000 when I graduated. I had no trouble paying off those loans. At present, in-state tuition for Bruins, Bears, Gouchos, and Banana Slugs, among others, is $13,400 a year.

I'm sure it's just as easy to pay off $53,600 and interest as it was for me to pay off $14,000 and interest, since 'nearly half of the lawyers in the cohort paid off all of their debt by 2012.'

Posted by: Cent Rieker | Nov 10, 2015 7:26:20 AM

There is survivorship bias in the data.

Posted by: Jojo | Nov 10, 2015 7:24:12 AM

How is the title of the article at all accurate? Most lawyers? The study was on one cohort, not even close to a representative cross-section. And, has no proven applicability to class of 2008 and later grads. I like that they just caveat away the better economy and the lower student loans. How many judges would accept such analysis when comparing a current case to precedent. Your Honor, but for the difference in the most relevant parts, these matters are identical.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 10, 2015 7:18:25 AM

It was very easy to get into law school in the late 1990s -- boom times. Sure these folks had it relatively well. In any event, The obvious flaw to the stats above is the authors' own caveat, "many lawyers do not work in private practice". So, for all we know, 90% of year 2000 law school graduates were not in private practice X years out, so these six figure salaries might be way, way above the median for all graduates -- we just can't tell from the description above, but it does appear very likely that the worst outcomes were excluded from these medians.

Posted by: anon. 25 | Nov 10, 2015 7:14:23 AM

Radio announcers continue to have profitable, fulfilling careers.

Please enroll in my radio announcer training program.*

*you are not likely to become a radio announcer, but I will have your money.

Posted by: terry malloy | Nov 10, 2015 7:04:23 AM

"Polaroid and Kodak were both viable, profitable companies in 2000. As such, I recommend my investors buy and go long on them in 2015. Wait, what - neither company exists anymore? Huh. I thought past performance guaranteed future returns?"

- The world's worst financial adviser

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Nov 10, 2015 6:24:45 AM