LAWYERS PER CAPITA BY STATE

Many readers find their way to the Law School Tuition Bubble by searching for the “number of attorneys per capita by state,” and discover research I did way back in the summer of 2010. Other searches bring people to the Avery Index, which used the 2000 Census with 2007 Martindale-Hubble attorney listings. We have better data available. In the past, one would have to shell out $45.00 to buy the Lawyer Statistical Report: The Legal Profession in 2000 from the ABA bookstore, which is no longer available except for a five-page excerpt on the ABA’s Market Research page. So, here’s the 2012 update, open source for all.

This page uses the number of attorneys “active and resident” according to the “ABA’s National Lawyer Population by State” count (NLPS) and population figures by state from the U.S. Census Bureau via FRED (Puerto Rico’s is from one year earlier from the World Bank). The NLPS does not tell us the number of inactive or nonresident attorneys, but the Lawyer Statistical Report calculates those at 4.8 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively. To give you a comparison: for the 1.2 million attorneys on the rolls in 2012, between 1970 and 2011 the ABA conferred just over 1.5 million law degrees, though only about 728,200 people were employed as lawyers in 2010.

WARNING: I suspect some people, including university administrators, have used the data on this page to argue that there is an attorney shortage in one state or another. This is very, very, very wrong. There is no general shortage of lawyers anywhere in the United States. If you use these data to argue that, you are deliberately misleading your audience by failing to understand that having a law license and working as an attorney are not the same thing (doubly so for people who just have a law degree). You should be honest with your audience by understanding the entire page as presented. Furthermore, demand for legal services is dependent on the level of economic activity in a region, so it makes sense that sparsely populated states have lower lawyer densities.

This page will be regularly updated.

Number of Active & Resident Lawyers Per Capita

The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are counted as states.

# STATE 2012 POPULATION NO. LAWYERS ACTIVE & RESIDENT (2012) NO. LAWYERS PER 10,000 RESIDENTS (2012)
1 District of Columbia 632,323 51,271 810.84
2 New York 19,570,261 163,798 83.70
3 Massachusetts 6,646,144 42,483 63.92
4 Connecticut 3,590,347 20,842 58.05
5 Illinois 12,875,255 60,069 46.65
6 New Jersey 8,864,590 40,997 46.25
7 Minnesota 5,379,139 23,774 44.20
8 California 38,041,430 159,824 42.01
9 Missouri 6,021,988 24,276 40.31
10 Colorado 5,187,582 20,768 40.03
11 Louisiana 4,601,893 18,327 39.82
12 Rhode Island 1,050,292 4,060 38.66
13 Pennsylvania 12,763,536 48,947 38.35
14 Maryland 5,884,563 22,477 38.20
15 Vermont 626,011 2,270 36.26
16 Puerto Rico 3,706,690 13,282 35.83
17 Florida 19,317,568 66,556 34.45
18 Washington 6,897,012 23,741 34.42
19 Michigan 9,883,360 33,692 34.09
20 Oklahoma 3,814,820 12,978 34.02
21 Alaska 731,449 2,418 33.06
22 Ohio 11,544,225 37,745 32.70
23 Oregon 3,899,353 12,276 31.48
24 Delaware 917,092 2,853 31.11
25 Texas 26,059,203 80,657 30.95
26 Montana 1,005,141 3,008 29.93
27 Hawaii 1,392,313 4,107 29.50
28 Virginia 8,185,867 24,091 29.43
29 Kentucky 4,380,415 12,891 29.43
30 Alabama 4,822,023 14,135 29.31
31 Maine 1,329,192 3,865 29.08
32 Wyoming 576,412 1,668 28.94
33 Georgia 9,919,945 28,520 28.75
34 Kansas 2,885,905 8,156 28.26
35 Nebraska 1,855,525 4,983 26.85
36 Wisconsin 5,726,398 15,364 26.83
37 New Mexico 2,085,538 5,513 26.43
38 Tennessee 6,456,243 16,947 26.25
39 West Virginia 1,855,413 4,854 26.16
40 New Hampshire 1,320,718 3,449 26.11
41 Utah 2,855,287 7,309 25.60
42 Nevada 2,758,931 6,850 24.83
43 Iowa 3,074,186 7,308 23.77
44 Indiana 6,537,334 15,512 23.73
45 Mississippi 2,984,926 6,955 23.30
46 Idaho 1,595,728 3,627 22.73
47 South Dakota 833,354 1,865 22.38
48 North Dakota 699,628 1,546 22.10
49 Arizona 6,553,255 14,471 22.08
50 North Carolina 9,752,073 21,280 21.82
51 South Carolina 4,723,723 9,537 20.19
52 Arkansas 2,949,131 5,928 20.10
USA AVERAGE 313,914,040 1,244,120 39.63

(Arizona’s lawyer count is from 2011, and Illinois and Puerto Ricos are from 2010, shockingly. Alabama’s lawyer count includes all attorneys.)

Here’s a geographic representation by state, and one by Bureau of Economic Analysis regions.

Active & Resident Lawyers Per 10,000 Residents (States, 2012)

Active & Resident Lawyers Per 10,000 Residents (BEA Regions, 2012)

BEA REGION 2012 POPULATION # LAWYERS ACTIVE & RESIDENT (2012) # LAWYERS/10,000 RESIDENTS (2012)
New England 14,562,704 76,969 52.85
Mideast 48,632,365 330,343 67.93
Great Lakes 46,566,572 162,382 34.87
Plains 20,749,725 71,908 34.65
Southeast 79,949,220 230,021 28.77
Southwest 38,512,816 113,619 29.50
Rocky Mountain 11,220,150 36,380 32.42
Far West 53,720,488 209,216 38.95
USA REGIONS 313,914,040 1,244,120 39.63

There’s probably a correlation between active and resident status and bar authorities requiring high fees, CLE requirements, and mandatory pro bono work that might be worth investigating in the future. The fact that Massachusetts lost five percent of its lawyers over the course of 2010 strongly suggests that many attorneys changed their status due to an inability to afford bar fees and CLEs. The ABA Market Research Department should probably start counting inactive attorneys. We may learn much.

Number of Employed Lawyers Per Capita

Next, we have the number of employed lawyers per capita based on data supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and state government labor departments. The cumulative state total differs from the BLS’s so I included that separately along with the same information by BEA region.

# STATE/REGION 2010 POPULATION NO. EMPLOYED LAWYERS (2010) NO. EMPLOYED LAWYERS PER 10,000 RESIDENTS (2010)
1 District of Columbia 610,589 41,669 694.51
2 Delaware 891,464 3,037 34.35
3 New York 19,577,730 66,695 34.16
4 Vermont 622,433 1,997 32.14
5 Massachusetts 6,631,280 21,114 32.03
6 New Jersey 8,732,811 26,165 30.10
7 Florida 18,678,049 54,091 29.22
8 Colorado 5,095,309 14,158 28.23
9 Connecticut 3,526,937 9,208 26.20
10 Montana 980,152 2,550 26.18
11 Illinois 12,944,410 32,868 25.49
12 Virginia 7,952,119 19,391 24.66
13 Maryland 5,737,274 13,988 24.59
14 Oklahoma 3,724,447 8,866 24.06
15 California 37,266,600 86,700 23.50
16 Minnesota 5,290,447 12,058 22.91
17 Rhode Island 1,056,870 2,401 22.71
18 Pennsylvania 12,632,780 27,953 22.18
19 Maine 1,312,939 2,811 21.36
20 Washington 6,746,199 14,231 21.33
21 Missouri 6,011,741 12,434 20.78
22 Louisiana 4,529,426 9,301 20.72
23 Nevada 2,654,751 5,428 20.57
24 North Dakota 653,778 1,316 20.37
25 Utah 2,830,753 5,398 19.41
26 South Dakota 820,077 1,520 18.75
27 Georgia 9,908,357 18,295 18.64
28 New Hampshire 1,323,531 2,439 18.45
29 Nebraska 1,811,072 3,254 18.13
30 Kansas 2,841,121 5,059 17.96
31 Texas 25,213,445 44,329 17.90
32 Arizona 6,676,627 11,643 17.67
33 Hawaii 1,300,086 2,261 17.55
34 Ohio 11,532,111 20,198 17.51
35 Wisconsin 5,668,519 9,709 17.18
36 Idaho 1,559,796 2,621 16.97
37 West Virginia 1,825,513 3,062 16.81
38 Kentucky 4,339,435 6,860 15.91
39 Arkansas 2,910,236 4,546 15.74
40 Alabama 4,729,656 7,347 15.61
41 New Mexico 2,033,875 3,019 15.04
42 Michigan 9,931,235 14,790 14.86
43 Iowa 3,023,081 4,467 14.85
44 South Carolina 4,596,958 6,703 14.72
45 North Carolina 9,458,888 13,653 14.59
46 Indiana 6,445,295 9,249 14.41
47 Alaska 708,862 993 14.29
48 Wyoming 547,637 757 13.91
49 Oregon 3,855,536 5,049 13.21
50 Mississippi 2,960,467 3,770 12.78
51 Puerto Rico 3,721,978 3,949 10.56
N/A Tennessee* 6,338,112 8,720 N/A
U.S.A. (STATES) 312,772,794 714,090 22.83
U.S.A. (BLS) 312,772,794 728,200 23.46
Mideast 48,182,648 179,507 37.40
New England 14,473,990 39,970 27.71
Rocky Mountains 11,013,647 25,484 23.47
Far West 52,532,034 114,662 22.05
Southeast* 78,227,216 155,739 19.91
Plains 20,451,317 40,108 19.74
Great Lakes 46,521,570 86,814 18.69
Southwest 37,648,394 67,857 18.31
U.S.A. (REGIONS) 309,050,816 701,421 22.70

* Tennessee employed lawyer data from 2008.

‘Idle’ Attorneys

Finally, to add some value that the Lawyer Statistical Report never would have considered, the difference between lawyers on the rolls and the number of employed lawyers varies significantly between states and regions. This creates data I call “Idle Attorneys”: lawyers who are not employed in the profession. They may be judges, legislators, businesspeople whose careers advanced due to their law degrees; or, they may be people who are unable to find careers as attorneys, are working in areas that don’t require law degrees, are choosing not to work, or are unemployed yet still maintaining their active membership. The correlation coefficient between the number of law schools per capita (omitted) and idle attorneys per capita in each state is 0.83, and in the BEA regions it’s 0.60. Using data from the Law Graduate Oversupply page, the correlation between surplus graduates per capita (omitted) and idle attorneys per capita is 0.87, but in the BEA regions it’s 0.84, though that’s a smaller sample. There isn’t quite enough information to make the causal argument that excess law school enrollments lead to excess lawyers, but it is interesting. Readers should note that the distribution is highly skewed, with nearly a third of idle attorneys living in New York and California.

# STATE NO. LAWYERS ACTIVE & RESIDENT (2010) NO. EMPLOYED LAWYERS (2010) NO. IDLE LAWYERS NO. IDLE LAWYERS PER 10,000 RESIDENTS PERCENT IDLE
1 Puerto Rico 13,282 3,949 9,333 25.08 70.27%
2 Alaska 2,418 993 1,425 20.10 58.93%
3 New York 157,778 66,695 91,083 46.52 57.73%
4 Oregon 11,766 5,049 6,717 17.42 57.09%
5 Michigan 32,731 14,790 17,941 18.07 54.81%
6 Connecticut 20,309 9,208 11,101 31.47 54.66%
7 Wyoming 1,636 757 879 16.05 53.73%
8 Massachusetts 44,121 21,114 23,007 34.69 52.15%
9 Missouri 23,728 12,434 11,294 18.79 47.60%
10 Louisiana 17,688 9,301 8,387 18.52 47.42%
11 Minnesota 22,585 12,058 10,527 19.90 46.61%
12 Alabama 13,655 7,347 6,308 13.34 46.20%
13 Ohio 37,335 20,198 17,137 14.86 45.90%
14 Illinois 60,069 32,868 27,201 21.01 45.28%
15 Hawaii 4,077 2,261 1,816 13.97 44.54%
16 Mississippi 6,786 3,770 3,016 10.19 44.44%
17 Kentucky 12,334 6,860 5,474 12.61 44.38%
18 California 153,155 86,700 66,455 17.83 43.39%
19 New Mexico 5,269 3,019 2,250 11.06 42.70%
20 Texas 77,049 44,329 32,720 12.98 42.47%
21 Rhode Island 4,098 2,401 1,697 16.06 41.41%
22 Pennsylvania 47,453 27,953 19,500 15.44 41.09%
23 Washington 23,204 14,231 8,973 13.30 38.67%
24 Iowa 7,080 4,467 2,613 8.64 36.91%
25 Maryland 22,149 13,988 8,161 14.22 36.85%
26 Kansas 8,009 5,059 2,950 10.38 36.83%
27 Nebraska 5,149 3,254 1,895 10.46 36.80%
28 Wisconsin 15,078 9,709 5,369 9.47 35.61%
29 West Virginia 4,725 3,062 1,663 9.11 35.20%
30 New Jersey 40,286 26,165 14,121 16.17 35.05%
31 Georgia 27,398 18,295 9,103 9.19 33.23%
32 Indiana 13,850 9,249 4,601 7.14 33.22%
33 North Carolina 20,226 13,653 6,573 6.95 32.50%
34 Colorado 19,737 14,158 5,579 10.95 28.27%
35 New Hampshire 3,396 2,439 957 7.23 28.18%
36 South Carolina 9,264 6,703 2,561 5.57 27.64%
37 Oklahoma 11,711 8,866 2,845 7.64 24.29%
38 Maine 3,663 2,811 852 6.49 23.26%
39 Arkansas 5,789 4,546 1,243 4.27 21.47%
40 Idaho 3,299 2,621 678 4.35 20.55%
41 Utah 6,778 5,398 1,380 4.88 20.36%
42 South Dakota 1,839 1,520 319 3.89 17.35%
43 Nevada 6,523 5,428 1,095 4.12 16.79%
44 District of Columbia 49,207 41,669 7,538 123.45 15.32%
45 Florida 62,875 54,091 8,784 4.70 13.97%
46 Virginia 22,472 19,391 3,081 3.87 13.71%
47 Arizona 13,384 11,643 1,741 2.61 13.01%
48 Montana 2,921 2,550 371 3.79 12.70%
49 Vermont 2,166 1,997 169 2.72 7.80%
50 North Dakota 1,397 1,316 81 1.24 5.80%
51 Delaware 2,706 3,037 -331 -3.71 -12.23%
N/A Tennessee* 16,365 8,720 7,645 12.06 46.72%
U.S.A. (States)* 1,201,968 714,090 487,878 15.60 40.59%
U.S.A. (BLS) 1,188,686 728,200 460,486 14.90 38.74%
New England 77,753 39,970 37,783 26.10 48.59%
Mideast 319,579 179,507 140,072 29.07 43.83%
Great Lakes 159,063 86,814 72,249 15.53 45.42%
Plains 69,787 40,108 29,679 14.51 42.53%
Southeast* 219,577 155,739 63,838 8.16 29.07%
Southwest 107,413 67,857 39,556 10.51 36.83%
Rocky Mountains 34,371 25,484 8,887 8.07 25.86%
Far West 201,143 114,662 86,481 16.46 42.99%
U.S.A. REGIONS 1,188,686 710,141 478,545 15.48 40.25%

Here’s a chart sorted by the number of idle attorneys per capita.

Idle Attorneys Per 10,000 Residents (2010)
And here’s a map of idle attorneys per capita by BEA region.

Idle Attorneys Per Capita (BEA Regions, 2010)
Fin.

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