Quick Link–Iowa Limited Government Advocates Call Law School “A Great Devourer”

Deborah Thornton, “Law School: A Great Devourer,” in the Iowa Press-Citizen

Here’s the The Public Interest Institute’s full Policy Study

I normally don’t agree with limited government advocates, but it looks like they’ve done their research on the law schools. Interestingly, on page 7, the Policy Study produces BLS data showing that the economy will add 98,500 jobs AND that replacement needs will create 141,900 lawyer positions for a total of 240,400 lawyer jobs between 2008 and 2018, which I didn’t know how to find until now.

Adding to Thornton’s analysis, in that time period the ABA schools will have produced at least 439,624 new juris doctor holders (43,588 in 2008 + 44,0004 x 9 years). Excluding underemployed attorneys and non-ABA grads, the ratio will be one graduate for every 1.83 lawyer jobs, implying a minimum 55% reduction in graduates to lower the ratio to 1:1. The law school equivalent would be 90 out of 199 schools (I exclude the JAG school).

After addressing Iowa’s situation, Thornton provides four alternatives for prospective law students (32-34):

  1. Become a paralegal and see if law school is worthwhile given the low number of new jobs
  2. “Read” the law in a state that allows it (California, Maine, New York,Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming)
  3. Attend law school part time
  4. Law school transparency

I don’t have time to read the full study, but I would think limited government proponents would consider student lending reform as a policy solution to say nothing of shutting down scores of law schools. Iowans considering law school should definitely give the study a look.



  1. Matt, take a look at my entry on Iowa lawyer overproduction:


    “In the last analysis, there are too many lawyers in the state of Iowa. How the hell can a population that has grown by 2.8% in over 9 years support a 32% increase in the number of attorneys, over largely the same nine year period?!?! The population increase in attorneys is essentially 11.5 times greater than the increase in the state’s general population.”

    Keep in mind that this growth occured with only two law schools in the state. And both the University of Iowa and Third Tier Drake have relatively small class sizes – in comparison to other ABA diploma mills.

    1. I figured you’d written on that, so thanks for the redirect. Looking at the ABA numbers, it’s weird that between Dec. 31, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2008, Iowa added only 77 attorneys to its rolls when hundreds of people pass its bar exam each year. They can’t all be moving to Nebraska.

  2. A former classmate is moving to Nebraska, because there are no decent legal jobs in Iowa. She is licensed in Iowa, but will waive into Nebraska. She has a job lined up, with a small firm.

    My friend was taking court-appointed work in Des Moines, but the state screwed her out of money. She turned in all the paperwork within days of the final disposition. However, since the state reduced the number of clerks, her paperwork was not processed with the statutory 45 day period.

    Anyway, the ABA is lazy. I was able to find those figures, simply by looking up state bar info. Hell, Drake adds at least 70 licensed Iowa attorneys annually. The University of Iowa COL is a larger school.

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