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 population numbers with 2007 Martindale-Hubble attorney listings. Better data are available.

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 (pdf) calculates those at 4.8 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively. To give you a comparison: For the 1.3 million attorneys on the rolls in 2013, between 1970 and 2012 the ABA conferred just over 1.6 million law degrees and state bars issued nearly 2 million lawyer licenses. According to the Current Population Survey, 1.1 million attorneys were working in the United States in 2012, but the Labor Department’s Employment projections program places the figure at 759,800.

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. For more information, read the Lawyer Overproduction page.

This page will be regularly updated.

Number of Active & Resident Lawyers Per Capita

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

NO. OF LAWYERS PER CAPITA BY STATE (2013)
RANK STATE POPULATION (2013) NO. LAWYERS ACTIVE & RESIDENT (2013) NO. LAWYERS PER 10,000 RESIDENTS (2013)
1. District of Columbia 646,449 51,928 803.28
2. New York 19,651,127 166,317 84.63
3. Massachusetts 6,692,824 43,008 64.26
4. Connecticut 3,596,080 21,150 58.81
5. Illinois 12,882,135 62,496 48.51
6. New Jersey 8,899,339 40,993 46.06
7. Minnesota 5,420,380 24,091 44.45
8. California 38,332,521 163,163 42.57
9. Missouri 6,044,171 24,423 40.41
10. Louisiana 4,625,470 18,528 40.06
11. Colorado 5,268,367 21,094 40.04
12. Rhode Island 1,051,511 4,173 39.69
13. Maryland 5,928,814 23,068 38.91
14. Pennsylvania 12,773,801 49,697 38.91
15. Puerto Rico 3,667,084 14,193 38.70
16. Vermont 626,630 2,300 36.70
17. Florida 19,552,860 68,464 35.01
18. Washington 6,971,406 24,032 34.47
19. Michigan 9,895,622 33,995 34.35
20. Ohio 11,570,808 38,541 33.31
21. Alaska 735,132 2,442 33.22
22. Oregon 3,930,065 12,276 31.24
23. Texas 26,448,193 82,607 31.23
24. Delaware 925,749 2,888 31.20
25. Oklahoma 3,850,568 11,970 31.09
26. Montana 1,015,165 3,046 30.00
27. Kentucky 4,395,295 13,061 29.72
28. Virginia 8,260,405 24,468 29.62
29. Alabama 4,833,722 14,303 29.59
30. Hawaii 1,404,054 4,132 29.43
31. Maine 1,328,302 3,863 29.08
32. Georgia 9,992,167 28,974 29.00
33. Wyoming 582,658 1,681 28.85
34. Kansas 2,893,957 8,199 28.33
35. Wisconsin 5,742,713 15,538 27.06
36. Utah 2,900,872 7,840 27.03
37. Nebraska 1,868,516 5,028 26.91
38. New Hampshire 1,323,459 3,507 26.50
39. Tennessee 6,495,978 17,203 26.48
40. West Virginia 1,854,304 4,901 26.43
41. New Mexico 2,085,287 5,468 26.22
42. Nevada 2,790,136 7,080 25.38
43. Arizona 6,626,624 16,208 24.46
44. Iowa 3,090,416 7,383 23.89
45. Indiana 6,570,902 15,646 23.81
46. Mississippi 2,991,207 6,955 23.25
47. Idaho 1,612,136 3,725 23.11
48. South Dakota 844,877 1,905 22.55
49. North Carolina 9,848,060 21,855 22.19
50. North Dakota 723,393 1,560 21.57
51. Arkansas 2,959,373 5,953 20.12
52. South Carolina 4,774,839 9,587 20.08
U.S.A. AVERAGE 316,128,839 1,252,713 39.63

(Oregon’s lawyer count is from 2012. Alabama’s lawyer count includes all attorneys irrespective of active or resident status.)

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

Active & Resident Lawyers Per 10,000 Residents (States, 2013) Active & Resident Lawyers Per 10,000 Residents (BEA Regions, 2013)

 

NO. LAWYERS PER 10,000 RESIDENTS BY BEA REGION
BEA REGION POPULATION (2013) NO. LAWYERS ACTIVE & RESIDENT (2013) NO. LAWYERS PER 10,000 RESIDENTS (2013)
New England 14,618,806 78,001 53.36
Mideast 48,825,279 334,891 68.59
Great Lakes 46,662,180 166,216 35.62
Plains 20,885,710 72,589 34.76
Southeast 80,583,680 234,252 29.07
Southwest 39,010,672 116,253 29.80
Rocky Mountains 11,379,198 37,386 32.85
Far West 54,163,314 213,125 39.35

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.

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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