LAW GRADUATE OVERPRODUCTION

[NOTE: Data on Mississippi are probably wrong for reasons stated in this post. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security published its own numbers, but they aren't much better for reasons discussed here.]

Law Graduate Overproduction by State (2011)

Law Graduate Overproduction by State (2011)

Law Graduate Overproduction by BEA Regions (2011)

Law Graduate Overproduction by BEA Regions (2011)

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. Link to the Am Law Daily comparison to the 2009 edition. At the national level, the BLS reports that the economy will create 212,000 lawyer jobs between 2010 and 2020 while the ABA law schools will produce more than 440,000 new law graduates on the very high end, assuming there is no decline in enrollments, which there certainly will be. These data are meant to depict where there are too many law students and should not be confused with applicants per job in various locations. There are a couple limitations to the data:

(1)  They necessarily exclude non-ABA law schools because no centralized authorities track them. This is unfortunate because non-ABA law schools account for more than 16 percent of all law schools (I continue to exclude correspondence schools and the JAG school).

(2)  Overproduction assumes every graduate works in the state he or she attended law school. This obviously isn’t true. It’s also theoretically possible that some law schools deliberately “underbid” those in other states, i.e. cheaply producing better graduates and exporting them to undercut local law schools. I dismiss this hypothesis as dubious given tuition rates, and ultimately it doesn’t matter. The oversupply problem wouldn’t exist if there were clear attorney shortages to compensate for surplus production in other regions. The following results demonstrate only three states “underproducing” graduates: Alaska, Nevada, and Wyoming, but those three can’t possibly absorb the tens of thousands of excess law graduates produced per year elsewhere.

Here’s a chart of the results, the numbers in parentheses are the number of ABA-accredited law schools operating in 2011. The ABA restored the University of La Verne’s provisional accreditation in 2011 just before its students graduated, so it’s counted too. A “*” denotes a state that has non-ABA-accredited law schools. As always D.C. and Puerto Rico are counted as states for the purposes of this analysis.

# STATE/REGION AVERAGE ANNUAL JOB OPENINGS ABA GRADS (2011) 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 Massachusetts (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
11 New York (15) 1,610 4,703 3,093 2.92
12 Minnesota (4) 320 887 567 2.77
13 Connecticut (3) 190 526 336 2.77
14 Rhode Island (1) 60 158 98 2.63
15 Iowa (2) 130 342 212 2.63
16 Ohio (9) 550 1,411 861 2.57
17 New Hampshire (1) 60 147 87 2.45
18 North Carolina (7) 460 1,123 663 2.44
19 Kentucky (3) 190 455 265 2.39
20 Pennsylvania (8) 740 1,739 999 2.35
21 Illinois (9) 970 2,183 1,213 2.25
22 Kansas (2) 140 309 169 2.21
23 South Carolina (2) 200 418 218 2.09
24 Arkansas (2) 130 269 139 2.07
25 North Dakota (1) 40 81 41 2.03
26 Missouri (4) 440 890 450 2.02
27 California (21)* 2,490 4,964 2,474 1.99
28 Wisconsin (2) 250 484 234 1.94
29 Virginia (8) 760 1,350 590 1.78
30 Alabama (3)* 240 416 176 1.73
31 Oklahoma (3) 270 462 192 1.71
32 Hawaii (1) 60 101 41 1.68
33 West Virginia (1) 80 125 45 1.56
34 Florida (11)* 1,960 2,998 1,038 1.53
35 New Mexico (1) 70 106 36 1.51
36 Idaho (1) 70 104 34 1.49
37 Maryland (2) 400 594 194 1.49
38 District of Columbia (6) 1,430 2,116 686 1.48
39 Texas (9) 1,630 2,343 713 1.44
40 Washington (3) 460 657 197 1.43
41 South Dakota (1) 40 55 15 1.38
42 Colorado (2) 340 462 122 1.36
43 Utah (2) 210 285 75 1.36
44 Georgia (5) 690 896 206 1.30
45 Maine (1) 70 90 20 1.29
46 Montana (1) 70 84 14 1.20
47 Arizona (3) 450 490 40 1.09
48 New Jersey (3) 750 783 33 1.04
49 Nevada (1) 130 128 -2 0.98
50 Wyoming (1) 80 73 -7 0.91
51 Alaska (0) 20 0 -20 0.00
N/A Tennessee (3)* N/A 472 N/A N/A
U.S.A. (States) (200) 21,300 44,495 23,195 2.09
U.S.A. (BLS) 21,200 44,495 23,295 2.10
New England (14) 1,130 3,384 2,254 2.99
Mideast (35) 4,990 10,187 5,197 2.04
Great Lakes (29) 2,360 6,968 4,608 2.95
Plains (16) 1,180 2,847 1,667 2.41
Southeast (51) 5,010 9,635 4,153 1.92
Southwest (16) 2,420 3,401 981 1.41
Rocky Mountains (7) 770 1,008 238 1.31
Far West (29) 3,340 6,387 3,047 1.91

The median state ratio of graduates to job openings is 2.02, the mean 2.37, and the average deviation 1.03. Only Georgia, Maine, Montana, Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada, Wyoming, and of course Alaska are below the first average deviation; Delaware is in the second average deviation above the average; Michigan is in the third; and Puerto Rico and Mississippi are way out there.

For an appendix, here’s a table of the states by employed lawyers, growth rates, net jobs between 2010 and 2020, and the average annual job openings.

STATE/REGION EMPLOYED LAWYERS (2010) PROJECTED LAWYER EMPLOYMENT (2020) GROWTH RATE NET JOBS AVERAGE ANNUAL JOB OPENINGS
Alabama 7,347 8,390 14.2% 104 240
Alaska 993 1,048 5.5% 6 20
Arizona 11,643 13,911 19.5% 227 450
Arkansas 4,546 5,028 10.6% 48 130
California 86,700 95,100 9.7% 840 2,490
Colorado 14,158 14,897 5.2% 74 340
Connecticut 9,208 9,396 2.0% 19 190
Delaware 3,037 3,058 0.7% 2 60
District of Columbia 41,669 48,041 15.3% 637 1,430
Florida 54,091 63,384 17.2% 929 1,960
Georgia 18,295 21,731 18.8% 344 690
Hawaii 2,261 2,404 6.3% 14 60
Idaho 2,621 2,812 7.3% 19 70
Illinois 32,868 36,334 10.5% 347 970
Indiana 9,249 10,191 10.2% 94 270
Iowa 4,467 4,952 10.9% 49 130
Kansas 5,059 5,528 9.3% 47 140
Kentucky 6,860 7,460 8.7% 60 190
Louisiana 9,301 10,249 10.2% 95 270
Maine 2,811 3,007 7.0% 20 70
Maryland 13,988 15,350 9.7% 136 400
Massachusetts 21,114 24,093 14.1% 298 700
Michigan 14,790 15,180 2.6% 39 320
Minnesota 12,058 12,935 7.3% 88 320
Mississippi 3,770 4,109 9.0% 34 30
Missouri 12,434 14,441 16.1% 201 440
Montana 2,550 2,717 6.5% 17 70
Nebraska 3,254 3,366 3.4% 11 70
Nevada 5,428 5,707 5.1% 28 130
New Hampshire 2,439 2,571 5.4% 13 60
New Jersey 26,165 28,688 9.6% 252 750
New Mexico 3,019 3,116 3.2% 10 70
New York 66,695 70,079 5.1% 338 1,610
North Carolina 13,653 15,630 14.5% 198 460
North Dakota 1,316 1,447 10.0% 13 40
Ohio 20,198 21,817 8.0% 162 550
Oklahoma 8,866 9,883 11.5% 102 270
Oregon 5,049 5,800 14.9% 75 180
Pennsylvania 27,953 30,067 7.6% 211 740
Puerto Rico 3,949 4,178 5.8% 23 100
Rhode Island 2,401 2,517 4.8% 12 60
South Carolina 6,703 7,371 10.0% 67 200
South Dakota 1,520 1,611 6.0% 9 40
Tennessee N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Texas 44,329 52,215 17.8% 789 1,630
Utah 5,398 6,456 19.6% 106 210
Vermont 1,997 2,111 5.7% 11 50
Virginia 19,391 23,275 20.0% 388 760
Washington 14,231 16,003 12.5% 177 460
West Virginia 3,062 3,258 6.4% 20 80
Wisconsin 9,709 10,403 7.1% 69 250
Wyoming 757 864 14.1% 11 80
U.S.A. (States) 705,370 783,315 11.2% 7,881 21,300
U.S.A. (BLS) 728,200 801,800 10.1% 7,360 21,200
New England 39,970 43,695 9.3% 373 1,130
Mideast 179,507 195,283 8.8% 1,578 4,990
Great Lakes 86,814 93,925 8.2% 711 2,360
Plains 40,108 44,280 10.4% 417 1,180
Southeast 147,019 169,885 15.6% 2,287 5,010
Southwest 67,857 79,125 16.6% 1,127 2,420
Rocky Mountains 25,484 27,746 8.9% 226 770
Far West 114,662 126,062 9.9% 1,140 3,340
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