LAW GRADUATE OVERPRODUCTION

Law Graduate Overproduction by State (2013)

Law Graduate Overproduction by BEA Region (2013)

Law Graduate Overproduction by BEA Region (2013)

This page tracks law graduate overproduction as of the class of 2013 by contrasting state government lawyer job creation projections with ABA graduate data from the Law School Admissions Council. Link to The American Lawyer for a similar analysis based on law licenses conferred. At the national level, the BLS estimates that the economy will create 196,500 lawyer jobs between 2012 and 2022. Because of the ongoing collapse in law school enrollments, it’s difficult to make a 10-year projection of law school graduates as in the past. My guess is it’ll still be more 300,000, absent changes in the federal loan program that would cause a further drop in enrollments.

These comparisons are principally designed to depict the estimated concentration of excess law graduates among states and Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) regions to show that there is no legal market capable of absorbing all law graduates. They should not be confused with the number of applicants per job in various locations, but unlike NALP or ABA employment data, state employment projections provide a baseline for the number of sustainable lawyer positions graduates can aspire to. There are a few other limitations to the analysis:

(1)  It necessarily omits graduates of non-ABA law schools because no centralized authorities track them. This is unfortunate because non-ABA law schools account for more than 15 percent of all law schools (I always exclude correspondence schools and the JAG school).

(2)  Overproduction means comparing graduates to the employment conditions in the state in which they attended law school. This obviously isn’t precise as many law schools export large proportions of their graduating classes to other states.

(3)  Many law graduates do not pass a bar exam ever or do not obtain law licenses for other reasons, though this isn’t a fact legal educators should be proud of. Similarly, it’s true that some number of graduates obtain non-lawyer jobs that make substantial use of their legal educations. However, this page will not discuss the reasons to be cautious of the “JD Advantage” employment category.

The lawyer overproduction analysis in The American Lawyer article, linked above, does not suffer from these weaknesses, but it has its own.

Here’s a chart of the results. The numbers in parentheses are the number of ABA-accredited law schools graduating students in 2013. A “*” denotes a state that has non-ABA-accredited law schools. As always the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are counted as states for the purposes of this analysis. States that do not provide employment information are excluded from the totals.

# STATE/REGION AVERAGE ANNUAL JOB OPENINGS ABA GRADS (2013) ANNUAL SURPLUS GRADS PER OPENING
1 Puerto Rico (3)* 130 662 532 5.09
2 Vermont (1) 40 203 163 5.08
3 Mississippi (2) 80 377 297 4.71
4 Massachusetts (8)* 560 2,391 1,831 4.27
5 Minnesota (4) 260 942 682 3.62
6 Delaware (1) 80 279 199 3.49
7 Indiana (4) 240 834 594 3.48
8 Louisiana (4) 270 936 666 3.47
9 Oregon (3) 160 527 367 3.29
10 District of Columbia (6) 690 2,181 1,491 3.16
11 North Carolina (7) 510 1,429 919 2.80
12 Wyoming (1) 30 78 48 2.60
13 Ohio (9) 570 1,474 904 2.59
14 New York (15) 1,960 5,007 3,047 2.55
15 Iowa (2) 130 328 198 2.52
16 Nebraska (2) 100 249 149 2.49
17 Illinois (9) 920 2,278 1,358 2.48
18 Connecticut (3) 220 541 321 2.46
19 Virginia (8) 590 1,440 850 2.44
20 Alabama (3)* 180 427 247 2.37
21 Missouri (4) 380 883 503 2.32
22 Arkansas (2) 120 275 155 2.29
23 South Carolina (2) 200 442 242 2.21
24 California (21)* 2,390 5,184 2,794 2.17
25 Kansas (2) 150 324 174 2.16
26 Hawaii (1) 50 108 58 2.16
27 New Hampshire (1) 50 107 57 2.14
28 Pennsylvania (8) 840 1,703 863 2.03
29 Idaho (1) 60 117 57 1.95
30 North Dakota (1) 40 75 35 1.88
31 Oklahoma (3) 250 468 218 1.87
32 South Dakota (1) 40 73 33 1.83
33 Wisconsin (2) 290 485 195 1.67
34 Florida (11) 1,930 3,190 1,260 1.65
35 Maine (1) 60 96 36 1.60
36 Georgia (5) 680 1,085 405 1.60
37 Maryland (2) 390 600 210 1.54
38 Arizona (3) 430 640 210 1.49
39 New Mexico (1) 80 114 34 1.43
40 New Jersey (3) 610 859 249 1.41
41 Kentucky (3) 300 422 122 1.41
42 Montana (1) 60 81 21 1.35
43 Tennessee (3)* 380 501 121 1.32
44 Texas (9) 1,800 2,323 523 1.29
45 Utah (2) 250 292 42 1.17
46 Washington (3) 670 654 -16 0.98
47 Nevada (1) 150 132 -18 0.88
48 Colorado (2) 600 437 -163 0.73
49 Alaska (0) 20 0 -20 0.00
N/A Michigan (5) N/A 2,206 N/A N/A
N/A Rhode Island (1) N/A 174 N/A N/A
N/A West Virginia (1) N/A 130 N/A N/A
U.S.A. (STATES, EXCL. P.R.) (198) 20,860 44,253 23,263 2.12
U.S.A. BLS (EXCL. P.R.) 19,650 46,101 22,731 2.35
New England (15) 930 3,338 2,408 3.59
Mideast (35) 4,570 10,629 6,059 2.33
Great Lakes (29) 2,020 5,071 3,051 2.51
Plains (16) 1,100 2,874 1,774 2.61
Southeast (51) 5,240 10,524 5,284 2.01
Southwest (16) 2,560 3,545 985 1.38
Rocky Mountain (7) 1,000 1,005 5 1.01
Far West (29) 3,440 6,605 3,165 1.92

The median state ratio of graduates to job openings is 2.16, the mean 2.27, and the average deviation 0.80. All reporting states after Arizona are below the first average deviation; Minnesota through D.C. are in the second average deviation above the mean, and the rest are further out.

Notably, in this edition of the law graduate overproduction estimate, three states with law schools had fewer graduates than projected job openings. (Two of them recently legalized a certain controlled substance for recreational use. Hm.) As a result, the Rocky Mountains BEA region has a mere five-graduate surplus. As with previous years, New England has the worst ratio of graduates to job openings. Finally, it’s unfortunate that as many as three states chose not to provide employment projections, particularly Michigan, which is a fairly large state.

For an appendix, here’s a table of the states by employed lawyers, growth rates, net jobs between 2012 and 2022, and the average annual job openings.

STATE/REGION EMPLOYED LAWYERS (2012) PROJECTED LAWYER EMPLOYMENT (2022) GROWTH RATE NET JOBS AVERAGE ANNUAL JOB OPENINGS
Alabama 7,040 7,710 9.5% 670 180
Alaska 1,020 1,010 N/A N/A 20
Arizona 11,740 14,160 20.6% 2,420 430
Arkansas 4,420 4,940 11.8% 520 120
California 87,400 97,300 11.3% 9,900 2,390
Colorado 15,800 19,280 22.0% 3,480 600
Connecticut 9,390 10,080 7.3% 690 220
Delaware 3,400 3,700 8.8% 300 80
District of Columbia 33,460 35,040 4.7% 1,580 690
Florida 51,860 61,310 18.2% 9,450 1,930
Georgia 19,520 23,220 19.0% 3,700 680
Hawaii 2,460 2,580 4.9% 120 50
Idaho 2,700 2,820 4.4% 120 60
Illinois 34,810 38,400 10.3% 3,590 920
Indiana 7,680 8,810 14.7% 1,130 240
Iowa 4,450 5,050 13.5% 600 130
Kansas 4,950 5,610 13.3% 660 150
Kentucky 5,600 6,450 15.2% 850 300
Louisiana 9,310 10,490 12.7% 1,180 270
Maine 2,930 3,010 2.7% 80 60
Maryland 14,800 16,330 10.3% 1,530 390
Massachusetts 22,640 24,590 8.6% 1,950 560
Michigan N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Minnesota 12,550 13,080 4.2% 530 260
Mississippi 3,220 3,460 7.5% 240 80
Missouri 12,620 14,410 14.2% 1,790 380
Montana 2,270 2,530 11.5% 260 60
Nebraska 4,060 4,430 9.1% 370 100
Nevada 5,640 6,260 11.0% 620 150
New Hampshire 2,280 2,380 4.4% 100 50
New Jersey 24,150 26,390 9.3% 2,240 610
New Mexico 3,830 3,980 3.9% 150 80
New York 82,220 88,680 7.9% 6,460 1,960
North Carolina 14,810 17,500 18.2% 2,690 510
North Dakota 1,540 1,680 9.1% 140 40
Ohio 21,160 23,480 11.0% 2,320 570
Oklahoma 9,260 10,270 10.9% 1,010 250
Oregon 5,070 5,830 15.0% 760 160
Pennsylvania 31,260 34,700 11.0% 3,440 840
Puerto Rico 4,440 5,040 13.5% 600 130
Rhode Island N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
South Carolina 7,140 7,950 11.3% 810 200
South Dakota 1,400 1,540 10.0% 140 40
Tennessee 8,010 10,520 31.3% 2,510 380
Texas 49,350 60,090 21.8% 10,740 1,800
Utah 5,890 7,470 26.8% 1,580 250
Vermont 2,030 2,150 5.9% 120 40
Virginia 20,430 23,030 12.7% 2,600 590
Washington 16,290 20,070 23.2% 3,780 670
West Virginia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Wisconsin 9,330 10,740 15.1% 1,410 290
Wyoming 1,050 1,170 11.4% 120 30
U.S.A. (STATES) 718,680 810,720 12.8% 92,040 20,990
U.S.A. BLS 759,800 834,700 9.9% 74,900 19,650
New England 39,270 42,210 7.5% 2,940 930
Mideast 189,290 204,840 8.2% 15,550 4,570
Great Lakes 72,980 81,430 11.6% 8,450 2,020
Plains 41,570 45,800 10.2% 4,230 1,100
Southeast 151,360 176,580 16.7% 25,220 5,240
Southwest 74,180 88,500 19.3% 14,320 2,560
Rocky Mountains 27,710 33,270 20.1% 5,560 1,000
Far West 117,880 133,050 12.9% 15,170 3,440
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