LAW GRADUATE OVERPRODUCTION

Law Graduate Overproduction by State (2015)

Law Graduate Overproduction by State (2015)

Law Graduate Overproduction (BEA Regions, 2015)

Law Graduate Overproduction (BEA Regions, 2015)

This page tracks law graduate overproduction as of the class of 2015 by contrasting state government lawyer job creation projections with ABA graduate data from the ABA’s Standard 509 Information Reports. At the national level, the BLS estimates that the economy will create 157,700 lawyer jobs between 2014 and 2024. 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. The ratios 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 authority tracks 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 and region in which they attended law school. This obviously isn’t precise because many law schools export large proportions of their graduating classes to other states and regions, e.g. graduates of Massachusetts law schools moving to Washington D.C.

(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.

Here’s a chart of the results. The numbers in parentheses are the number of ABA-accredited law schools graduating students in 2015. 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 their corresponding national and regional totals.

# STATE/REGION AVERAGE ANNUAL JOB OPENINGS (2014-2024) ABA GRADS (2015) AVERAGE ANNUAL SURPLUS GRADS PER AVERAGE ANNUAL OPENING
1. Puerto Rico (3)* 70 569 499 8.13
2. Vermont (1) 30 163 133 5.43
3. Massachusetts (8)* 420 2,164 1,744 5.15
4. Louisiana (4) 190 822 632 4.33
5. Michigan (5) 400 1,606 1,206 4.02
6. Wyoming (1) 20 73 53 3.65
7. Mississippi (2) 80 274 194 3.43
8. North Carolina (7) 420 1,422 1,002 3.39
9. South Dakota (1) 20 63 43 3.15
10. Indiana (4) 250 764 514 3.06
11. Delaware (1) 60 170 110 2.83
12. Missouri (4) 250 700 450 2.80
13. Minnesota (4) 260 723 463 2.78
14. Hawaii (1) 40 111 71 2.78
15. Illinois (9) 740 2,036 1,296 2.75
16. Tennessee (5)* 200 533 333 2.67
17. Ohio (9) 410 1,088 678 2.65
18. North Dakota (1) 30 79 49 2.63
19. Wisconsin (2) 170 447 277 2.63
20. Alabama (3)* 140 351 211 2.51
21. Virginia (8) 550 1,277 727 2.32
22. District of Columbia (6) 830 1,916 1,086 2.31
23. Pennsylvania (9) 630 1,418 788 2.25
24. South Carolina (2) 150 335 185 2.23
25. Nebraska (2) 110 245 135 2.23
26. Georgia (5) 420 931 511 2.22
27. Iowa (2) 120 263 143 2.19
28. Connecticut (3) 230 477 247 2.07
29. Arkansas (2) 130 255 125 1.96
30. Kansas (2) 130 255 125 1.96
31. New York (15) 2,150 4,105 1,955 1.91
32. Arizona (3) 370 705 335 1.91
33. New Mexico (1) 60 112 52 1.87
34. California (21)* 2,420 4,392 1,972 1.81
35. Oregon (3) 240 427 187 1.78
36. New Hampshire (1) 40 70 30 1.75
37. Oklahoma (3) 220 380 160 1.73
38. Kentucky (3) 250 395 145 1.58
39. Maine (1) 50 78 28 1.56
40. Florida (11) 1,770 2,718 948 1.54
41. Maryland (2) 360 537 177 1.49
42. Rhode Island (1) 90 129 39 1.43
43. Utah (2) 180 258 78 1.43
44. New Jersey (3) 420 585 165 1.39
45. Washington (3) 430 579 149 1.35
46. Montana (1) 70 82 12 1.17
47. Texas (9) 1,920 2,075 155 1.08
48. Colorado (2) 600 439 -161 0.73
49. Nevada (1) 270 131 -139 0.49
50. Alaska (0) 20 0 -20 0.00
N/A Idaho (2) N/A 106 N/A N/A
N/A West Virginia (1) N/A 125 N/A N/A
U.S.A. (STATES, EXCL. P.R.) (205) 19,360 39,158 19,798 2.02
U.S.A. (BLS) (EXCL. P.R.) (202) 15,770 39,389 23,619 2.50
New England (15) 860 3,081 2,221 3.58
Mideast (36) 4,450 8,731 4,281 1.96
Great Lakes (29) 1,970 5,941 3,971 3.02
Plains (16) 920 2,328 1,408 2.53
Southeast (53) 4,300 9,313 5,013 2.17
Southwest (16) 2,570 3,272 702 1.27
Rocky Mountains (8) 870 852 -18 0.98
Far West (29) 3,420 5,640 2,220 1.65

The median state ratio of graduates to job openings is 2.22, the mean 2.41, and the average deviation 0.90. All reporting states after Florida are below the first average deviation; Michigan through North Carolina are in the second average deviation above the mean, and the rest are further out.

Two states with law schools had fewer graduates than projected job openings, Idaho and West Virginia. Coincidentally, the Rocky Mountains BEA region has an 18-graduate deficit. As with previous years, New England has the worst ratio of graduates to job openings.

For an appendix, here’s a table of the states by employed lawyers, growth rates, net jobs between 2014 and 2024, and the average annual job openings.

STATE/REGION LAWYER EMPLOYMENT (2014) PROJECTED LAWYER EMPLOYMENT (2024) GROWTH NET JOBS AVERAGE ANNUAL JOB OPENINGS
Alabama 7,050 7,410 5.1% 360 140
Alaska 1,070 1,020 -4.7% -50 20
Arizona 9,630 11,870 23.3% 2,240 370
Arkansas 4,720 5,360 13.6% 640 130
California 91,900 102,700 11.8% 10,800 2,420
Colorado 15,800 19,270 22.0% 3,470 600
Connecticut 12,620 13,080 3.6% 460 230
Delaware 3,540 3,660 3.4% 120 60
District of Columbia 38,920 41,480 6.6% 2,560 830
Florida 59,400 68,400 15.2% 9,000 1,770
Georgia 18,160 19,690 8.4% 1,530 420
Hawaii 2,410 2,500 3.7% 90 40
Idaho N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Illinois 35,840 37,950 5.9% 2,110 740
Indiana 9,450 10,520 11.3% 1,070 250
Iowa 4,340 4,880 12.4% 540 120
Kansas 5,090 5,570 9.4% 480 130
Kentucky 9,490 10,640 12.1% 1,150 250
Louisiana 9,180 9,730 6.0% 550 190
Maine 3,170 3,210 1.3% 40 50
Maryland 11,690 13,370 14.4% 1,680 360
Massachusetts 22,100 23,080 4.4% 980 420
Michigan 17,900 19,230 7.4% 1,330 400
Minnesota 12,640 13,340 5.5% 700 260
Mississippi 3,760 4,030 7.2% 270 80
Missouri 12,470 13,160 5.5% 690 250
Montana 2,550 2,830 11.0% 280 70
Nebraska 3,910 4,400 12.5% 490 110
Nevada 6,030 7,880 30.7% 1,850 270
New Hampshire 2,010 2,070 3.0% 60 40
New Jersey 24,520 25,140 2.5% 620 420
New Mexico 3,810 3,830 0.5% 20 60
New York 90,830 99,020 9.0% 8,190 2,150
North Carolina 16,020 17,870 11.5% 1,850 420
North Dakota 1,740 1,790 2.9% 50 30
Ohio 20,180 21,290 5.5% 1,110 410
Oklahoma 9,480 10,290 8.5% 810 220
Oregon 8,250 9,440 14.4% 1,190 240
Pennsylvania 31,240 32,960 5.5% 1,720 630
Puerto Rico 4,420 4,500 1.8% 80 70
Rhode Island 4,210 4,460 5.9% 250 90
South Carolina 7,220 7,670 6.2% 450 150
South Dakota 980 1,080 10.2% 100 20
Tennessee 7,990 8,690 8.8% 700 200
Texas 51,420 63,140 22.8% 11,720 1,920
Utah 5,310 6,360 19.8% 1,050 180
Vermont 1,940 1,990 2.6% 50 30
Virginia 21,860 24,150 10.5% 2,290 550
Washington 17,290 18,940 9.5% 1,650 430
West Virginia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Wisconsin 9,620 9,940 3.3% 320 170
Wyoming 1,160 1,130 -2.6% -30 20
U.S.A. (STATES) 765,550 844,940 10.4% 79,390 19,240
U.S.A. (BLS) 778,700 822,500 5.6% 43,800 15,770
New England 46,050 47,890 4.0% 1,840 860
Mideast 200,740 215,630 7.4% 14,890 4,450
Great Lakes 92,990 98,930 6.4% 5,940 1,970
Plains 41,170 44,220 7.4% 3,050 920
Southeast 164,850 183,640 11.4% 18,790 4,300
Southwest 74,340 89,130 19.9% 14,790 2,570
Rocky Mountains 24,820 29,590 19.2% 4,770 870
Far West 126,950 142,480 12.2% 15,530 3,420