The Charge of the Juris Doctor Brigade, Part II: Half a League Onward

In Part I, I described why a breakdown of law schools per state is necessary.  Behold!  The data, far earlier than I expected.  No doodles because data’s just as much fun.

METHODOLOGY

Jack Crittenden’s methodology lumped all law schools (and law students) nationwide and divided that by the total population since 1965.  This dataset will differ because it’ll measure law schools and students per state.  Also, I use the term “state” loosely, that is it includes District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for simplicity’s sake.

There are six tables.  The first five divide state populations by the number of law schools in the state at that time.  The decades are 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 (2009’s estimates).  The fifth table divides state populations by their number of law students, including part-timers (provided by the ABA).  There’s a slight mismatch with these numbers, but they should be close enough.

There are a several assumptions this dataset makes, primarily that law graduates practice (or work if the J.D. is that fexible) in the state of their law schools.  There are a few exceptions, variations and flaws to this assumption.

  1. Some states will draw graduates from other states: these are “destination-law” states.
  2. Similarly, by an accounting identity, some states tend to export law students: these will be “exodus-law” states.
  3. It’s possible for a law graduate to move to a foreign country, which isn’t really an issue for this analysis.  That’s a pond problem, not a hose one.
  4. Importantly, some schools graduate more students than others, hence the final table.
  5. Some states have non-ABA accredited schools, especially California.  These schools may be unaffected by the bubble because they are not burdened by ABA fulltime faculty and library requirements.  They also do not participate in the US News rankings, so they won’t be subject to competition pressures.  I may look into these states another time.
  6. I’m aware of law school attrition, but I don’t think it’s important because it’s decreased proportionately to the number of overall students over the last few decades and lost students are replaced each year.

DATA

Table 1: State Population/Law Schools (1970)

State (# of ABA Schools) State Population/Law Schools (1970)
1 District of Columbia (5) 151400
2 Wyoming (1) 332416
3 North Dakota (1) 617761
4 South Dakota (1) 665507
5 Montana (1) 694409
6 Oregon (3) 697178
7 Idaho (1) 713000
8 Nebraska (2) 741747
9 Hawaii (1) 789000
10 Massachusetts (7)* 812739
11 Oklahoma (3) 853076
12 Arizona (2) 885500
13 Puerto Rico (3) 904011
14 Louisiana (4) 910250
15 Maine (1) 992048
16 New Mexico (1) 1017055
17 Utah (1) 1059273
18 Kentucky (3) 1073000
19 Colorado (2) 1103630
20 Mississippi (2) 1108456
21 Kansas (2) 1123500
22 Alabama (3)* 1148055
23 Virginia (4) 1162124
24 Missouri (4) 1169125
25 California (17)* 1173706
26 North Carolina (4) 1270515
27 Indiana (4) 1298500
28 Tennessee (3)* 1307896
National Average (155) 1311045
29 Ohio (8) 1331502
30 Texas (8) 1399625
31 Iowa (2) 1412500
32 Connecticut (2) 1516000
33 Georgia (3) 1530000
34 Illinois (7) 1587714
35 New York (11) 1657906
36 Florida (4) 1697250
37 Washington (2) 1704585
38 West Virginia (1) 1744237
39 Minnesota (2) 1902500
40 Arkansas (1) 1923295
41 Maryland (2) 1961200
42 Pennsylvania (6) 1965652
43 Wisconsin (2) 2208866
44 Michigan (4) 2218771
45 New Jersey (3) 2389388
46 South Carolina (1) 2590516
47 Alaska (0) N/A
48 Delaware (1) N/A
49 Nevada (1) N/A
50 New Hampshire (1) N/A
51 Rhode Island (1) N/A
52 Vermont (1) N/A

Table 2: State Population/Law Schools (1980)

State (# of ABA Schools) State Population/Law Schools (1980)
1 District of Columbia (6) 106333
2 Wyoming (1) 469557
3 Vermont (1) 511456
4 Delaware (1) 594338
5 North Dakota (1) 652717
6 South Dakota (1) 690768
7 Utah (2) 730519
8 Nebraska (2) 784913
9 Montana (1) 786690
10 Massachusetts (7)* 819577
11 Oregon (3) 877719
12 New Hampshire (1) 920610
13 Idaho (1) 945000
14 Hawaii (1) 985000
15 Oklahoma (3) 1008430
16 Connecticut (3) 1035667
17 Louisiana (4) 1050750
18 Puerto Rico (3) 1065507
19 Virginia (5) 1069364
20 Maine (1) 1124660
21 Arkansas (2) 1143218
22 North Carolina (5) 1176353
23 Kansas (2) 1181500
24 Ohio (9) 1199737
25 Kentucky (3) 1220333
26 Missouri (4) 1229172
27 New York (14) 1254148
28 Mississippi (2) 1260319
29 Illinois (9) 1268778
National Average (175) 1294547
30 Alabama (3)* 1297963
31 New Mexico (1) 1303302
32 California (18)* 1314944
33 Arizona (2) 1359000
34 Minnesota (3) 1359000
35 Indiana (4) 1372750
36 Washington (3) 1377385
37 Colorado (2) 1444982
38 Iowa (2) 1457000
39 Tennessee (3)* 1530373
40 Texas (8) 1778500
41 Georgia (3) 1821333
42 Michigan (5) 1852416
43 Florida (5) 1947800
44 West Virginia (1) 1949644
45 Pennsylvania (6) 1977316
46 Maryland (2) 2108488
47 Wisconsin (2) 2352884
48 New Jersey (3) 2454941
49 South Carolina (1) 3121820
50 Alaska (0) N/A
51 Nevada (1) N/A
52 Rhode Island (1) N/A

Table 3: State Population/Law Schools (1990)

State (# of ABA Schools) State Population/Law Schools (1990)
1 District of Columbia (7) 86700
2 Wyoming (1) 453588
3 Vermont (1) 562758
4 North Dakota (1) 638800
5 Delaware (1) 666168
6 South Dakota (1) 696004
7 Nebraska (2) 789193
8 Montana (1) 799065
9 Massachusetts (7)* 859489
10 Utah (2) 861425
11 Oregon (3) 947440
12 Idaho (1) 1006749
13 Virginia (6) 1031226
14 Oklahoma (3) 1048528
15 Louisiana (4) 1054993
16 Connecticut (3) 1095705
17 Hawaii (1) 1108229
18 New Hampshire (1) 1109252
19 Puerto Rico (3) 1174012
20 Arkansas (2) 1175363
21 New York (15) 1199364
22 Ohio (9) 1205235
23 Tennessee (3)* 1219296
24 Maine (1) 1227928
25 Kentucky (3) 1228432
26 Kansas (2) 1238787
27 Illinois (9) 1270067
28 Missouri (4) 1279268
29 Mississippi (2) 1286608
30 North Carolina (5) 1325727
31 Alabama (3)* 1346862
National Average (180) 1381722
32 Indiana (4) 1386040
33 Iowa (2) 1388378
34 Minnesota (3) 1458366
35 New Mexico (1) 1515069
36 Georgia (4) 1619554
37 Washington (3) 1622231
38 Colorado (2) 1647197
39 California (18)* 1653335
40 Pennsylvania (7) 1697378
41 West Virginia (1) 1793477
42 Arizona (2) 1832614
43 Michigan (5) 1859059
44 Texas (8) 2123314
45 Florida (6) 2156321
46 Maryland (2) 2390734
47 Wisconsin (2) 2445885
48 New Jersey (3) 2576729
49 South Carolina (1) 3486703
50 Alaska (0) N/A
51 Nevada (1) N/A
52 Rhode Island (1) N/A

Table 4: State Population/Law Schools (2000)

State (# of ABA Schools) State Population/Law Schools (2000)
1 District of Columbia (6) 95343
2 Alabama (3)* 149033
3 Wyoming (1) 493782
4 Vermont (1) 608827
5 North Dakota (1) 642200
6 South Dakota (1) 754844
7 Delaware (1) 783600
8 Nebraska (2) 855632
9 Montana (1) 902195
10 Massachusetts (7)* 907014
11 Virginia (7) 1011216
12 Rhode Island (1) 1048319
13 Utah (2) 1116585
14 Louisiana (4) 1117244
15 Connecticut (3) 1135188
16 Oregon (3) 1140466
17 Oklahoma (3) 1150218
18 Florida (12) 1176175
19 Hawaii (1) 1211537
20 Minnesota (4) 1229870
21 New Hampshire (1) 1235686
22 Ohio (9) 1261460
23 New York (15) 1265097
24 Puerto Rico (3) 1269537
25 Maine (1) 1274923
26 Idaho (1) 1293953
27 Arkansas (2) 1336700
28 Kansas (2) 1344209
29 Kentucky (3) 1347256
30 Illinois (9) 1379921
31 Missouri (4) 1398803
32 Mississippi (2) 1422329
National Average (192) 1465739
33 Iowa (2) 1463162
34 Indiana (4) 1520121
35 North Carolina (5) 1608110
36 Pennsylvania (7) 1754436
37 California (19)* 1782718
38 West Virginia (1) 1808344
39 New Mexico (1) 1819046
40 Tennessee (3)* 1896428
41 Washington (3) 1964707
42 Michigan (5) 1987689
43 Nevada (1) 1998257
44 Georgia (4) 2046613
45 Colorado (2) 2150631
46 Texas (9) 2316869
47 Arizona (2) 2565316
48 Maryland (2) 2648243
49 Wisconsin (2) 2681838
50 New Jersey (3) 2804783
51 South Carolina (1) 4012012
52 Alaska (0) N/A

Table 5: State Population/Law Schools (2010)

State (# of ABA Schools) State Population/Law Schools (2010)
1 District of Columbia (6) 99942
2 Wyoming (1) 544270
3 Vermont (1) 621760
4 North Dakota (1) 646844
5 South Dakota (1) 812383
6 Delaware (1) 885122
7 Nebraska (2) 898310
8 Massachusetts (7)* 941941
9 Montana (1) 974989
10 Virginia (8) 985324
11 Rhode Island (1) 1053209
12 Louisiana (4) 1123019
13 Connecticut (3) 1172763
14 Oklahoma (3) 1229017
15 Oregon (3) 1275219
16 Ohio (9) 1282516
17 Hawaii (1) 1295178
18 New York (15) 1302764
19 Minnesota (4) 1316554
20 Maine (1) 1318301
21 Puerto Rico (3) 1322429
22 New Hampshire (1) 1324575
23 North Carolina (7) 1340126
24 Utah (2) 1368212
25 Kansas (2) 1409374
26 Illinois (9) 1434490
27 Kentucky (3) 1438038
28 Arkansas (2) 1444725
29 Mississippi (2) 1469309
30 Missouri (4) 1496895
31 Iowa (2) 1503928
32 Idaho (1) 1545801
National Average (200) 1545813
33 Alabama (3)* 1569569
34 Pennsylvania (8) 1575596
35 Indiana (4) 1605778
36 Florida (12) 1685270
37 West Virginia (1) 1819777
38 California (20)* 1848083
39 Georgia (5) 1965842
40 Michigan (5) 2009139
41 New Mexico (1) 2009671
42 Tennessee (3)* 2071629
43 Arizona (3) 2198593
44 Washington (3) 2221398
45 South Carolina (2) 2280621
46 Colorado (2) 2512374
47 Nevada (1) 2643085
48 Texas (9) 2753589
49 Wisconsin (2) 2827387
50 Maryland (2) 2849739
51 New Jersey (3) 2902580
52 Alaska (0) N/A

Table 6: State Population/Law Students (2007/08)

State (# of ABA Schools) State Population(2009)/ ABA Law Students (2007-08), incl. part-time students
1 District of Columbia (6) 75.06972959
2 Massachusetts (7)* 830.2174515
3 Delaware (1) 905.9590583
4 Vermont (1) 1034.542429
5 New York (15) 1169.096799
6 Michigan (5) 1368.903886
7 Louisiana (4) 1628.153679
8 Illinois (9) 1652.426597
9 Minnesota (4) 1707.038574
10 Puerto Rico (3) 1788.678088
11 Virginia (8) 1793.535836
12 Rhode Island (1) 1914.925455
13 Florida (12) 1965.016854
National Average (Crittenden) 2000
14 Connecticut (3) 2003.580866
15 Nebraska (2) 2020.943757
16 Missouri (4) 2050.541096
17 Pennsylvania (8) 2118.804337
18 Indiana (4) 2193.686134
19 Oregon (3) 2202.450777
20 California (20)* 2209.436547
21 Oklahoma (3) 2317.44186
22 Ohio (9) 2346.542997
23 Wyoming (1) 2408.274336
24 North Carolina (7) 2638.785935
25 North Dakota (1) 2661.909465
26 New Hampshire (1) 2753.794179
27 Iowa (2) 2800.610801
28 Maryland (2) 2813.167818
29 Mississippi (2) 2817.466922
30 Colorado (2) 2923.064572
31 Washington (3) 2937.062583
32 Kansas (2) 3047.294054
33 Kentucky (3) 3094.772597
34 Texas (9) 3103.218382
35 New Jersey (3) 3184.981346
36 Utah (2) 3200.495906
37 Georgia (5) 3279.68335
38 Alabama (3)* 3309.000703
39 Arkansas (2) 3363.736903
40 South Carolina (2) 3487.188073
41 Wisconsin (2) 3627.180244
42 Montana (1) 3979.546939
43 South Dakota (1) 4082.326633
44 Hawaii (1) 4137.948882
45 Tennessee (3)* 4154.336898
46 West Virginia (1) 4173.800459
47 Arizona (3) 4658.035311
48 Maine (1) 4900.747212
49 Idaho (1) 5068.2
50 Nevada (1) 5427.279261
51 New Mexico (1) 5808.297688
52 Alaska (0) N/A

Notes:

  • * notes a state with non-ABA accredited law schools.  CA’s stats are particularly suspect.
  • Alaska has no law schools yet.
  • These statistics exclude UC Irvine (CA) and Lincoln Memorial University (TN), because they are only seeking ABA accreditation.
  • DC Depopulated after 1970, added 2 law schools, and then merged them in the 1992.  I hope you expect these numbers in the U.S. Capital!
  • DE excludes Widener’s Harrisbug, PA campus, which is, of course, included in PA.
  • Just going through the data, it seemed that New York didn’t have too many law schools, but it sure seemed to pack them.
  • Perhaps Cooley’s high number of students and high attrition rate weaken MI’s students/population statistic.  Same may go for William Mitchell in MN.
  • The number of law schools in Florida doubled in the 1990s

ANALYSIS

Some thoughts…I’m evaluating these data is by looking at the rankings on Table 6 (population/law students) first and then looking at how those states have ranked over time in the states/law school tables.

First, there’s a pretty clear east/northeast tendency in the data.  Given the high unemployment caused by the housing bubble’s burst, I’d say the East Coast, New England, and the Upper Midwest (save Wisconsin) are places to avoid going to law school.  Texas’ low rank is somewhat surprising.  I figured it’d be saturating its market the way other large states do.

It’s interesting to see Michigan consistently rank so low in the total number of law schools, yet sit in the top ten for law students.  It bears repeating what I wrote in the notes: Thomas M. Cooley School of Law skews these data pretty badly.  California’s swarms of unaccredited law schools probably add far more students than indicated as well, particularly because so many have opened between 1970 and now as compared to the three ABA schools that opened in that period.  However, those schools might be immune to the tuition bubble because they aren’t ranked and aren’t burdened by ABA fulltime faculty requirements.

Some states did unusually badly.  Florida probably added a few law schools too many in the last several years, but I’m fascinated by Minnesota’s story[1].  St. Thomas’ opening dropped it a full fourteen places in the state rankings.  Even opening Hamline in the 70s mayn’t’ve been such a good idea.  The interesting comparison lies between Minnesota and Wisconsin, which I’m interested in doing in more depth in the future.  Wisconsin has been consistently restrained in its number of law students and law schools.  Being surrounded by Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan probably hem it in quite a bit, subjecting it to law student refugees who can’t find jobs in those adjacent states.  Louisiana is another state to avoid.

What to say about Vermont Law School, Roger Williams (Rhode Island), and Widener in Delaware?  It’s unlikely these schools can serve only local markets.  Their graduates must be moving outstate, and I suspect they don’t go very far.  They’re the “exodus-law” states I predicted.  I just didn’t think small northeastern states would be so prominent!  Is this a bad thing?  Indirectly.  If Vermont, Roger Williams, and Widener provide a cheaper, better legal education than can be found in the nearby states (I’m guessing law schools in New York and Massachusetts in particular), then the savings pass to legal consumers.  It suggests, though, just how saturated the East Coast and New England is.  Though they’re not remarkably recent schools, their existence suggests that the region should not add any more law schools and that if any should shut down, that’s the region to look first.  Maine is lovely though; I suggest going there instead.

Another interesting comparison is between Hawaii and Puerto Rico.  Both are distant from the mainland, though some Puerto Ricans likely relocate to Florida and Hawaiians to California.  Because of their relative geographic isolation, comparing them to develop measures of attorney saturation could be quite useful.

The relationship between wealth and law schools/law students also requires investigation.  The swath from Virginia to Massachusetts had better have some reason to justify such a concentration, and I’m curious if it’s a tuition bubble hot spot.  Until then, should we call it “The Valley of Death”?

Next post, I will betray my capitalist loyalties and defend cartelization of legal practice.


[1] At this point, I should tell you I’m a native Minnesotan, and I even grew up within spitting distance of Westlaw’s global headquarters.  I chose not to go to law school in my home state because I’d already heard how saturated it was when St. Thomas opened its law school.

 

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