How to Misinterpret Data, Grasshopper

I’m on break right now, but I took a peek at the ABA’s “Lawyer Demographics Table” document (PDF), and figured I’d illustrate this for you:

The Amazing, Aging Profession

If you look at this and say, “I know, I’ll wait until I’m in my 50s to go to law school, then I’ll be more likely to get a biglaw job at graduation!” then you have failed to grasp Ti Kwan Leep. Approach that you might see…

In 2005, four percent of all lawyers were under 30, one-third of what it was 25 years earlier. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were higher now after the Great Law Depression began—just by the sheer number of layoffs and closures—but the trend is incontrovertible. The vast majority of law grads are in their 20s, and their number has grown in recent years, yet young lawyers hold a diminishing share of the lawyer-job pie. An aging profession that fails to replenish itself means today’s law students are in no way getting the same deal that their elders did in past decades. Any time-series comparisons based on currently employed lawyers are, therefore, fallacious. Past performance is not an indicator of future success, and past success is no longer an indicator of future performance.

Okay, fine, here’s the damn song.

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