Friday, January 29, 2016
The American Lawyer: The Government's Dismal Job Outlook for Lawyers, by Matt Leichter:
In December 2015 the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) updated its biennial Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), which predicts future employment. The OOH's entry on lawyers warns: "Competition for jobs should continue to be strong because more students are graduating from law school each year than there are jobs available."
That glum pronouncement isn't surprising. Every edition of the OOH going back to at least the 1990s has cited law graduate overproduction as an obstacle for would-be lawyers. What the agency does not say is that its lawyer job-growth estimate has declined considerably since the edition it published two years ago. The 2014 OOH predicted 74,800 new lawyer jobs through 2022. Between 2014 and 2024, the agency now estimates, the number of lawyer positions will grow from 778,700 to 822,500, adding just 43,800 jobs—a plunge of 41 percent.
Importantly, the BLS projections by themselves do not capture occupational replacement. Although it's mathematically correct that 43,800 new lawyers are expected to be employed by 2024, the figure doesn't account for lawyers who will leave the profession, either by switching careers or leaving the labor force altogether. According to the BLS, over this decade 113,900 lawyer positions will turn over. Factoring in new jobs created by growth, on average 15,770 new lawyer jobs will be created each year for the decade. The average for the 2012-2022 period was 19,650. ...
Combined with slow growth and high turnover rates, things do not look good for law students, even if there are fewer of them.