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 by state based on data supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and state government labor departments. The cumulative state total excludes Puerto Rico and the states that did not provide attorney employment information for 2012.

# STATE/REGION 2012 POPULATION NO. EMPLOYED LAWYERS (2012) NO. EMPLOYED LAWYERS PER 10,000 RESIDENTS (2012)
1 District of Columbia 632,323 33,460 529.16
2 New York 19,570,261 82,220 42.01
3 Delaware 917,092 3,400 37.07
4 Massachusetts 6,646,144 22,640 34.06
5 Vermont 626,011 2,030 32.43
6 Colorado 5,187,582 15,800 30.46
7 New Jersey 8,864,590 24,150 27.24
8 Illinois 12,875,255 34,810 27.04
9 Florida 19,317,568 51,860 26.85
10 Connecticut 3,590,347 9,390 26.15
11 Maryland 5,884,563 14,800 25.15
12 Virginia 8,185,867 20,430 24.96
13 Pennsylvania 12,763,536 31,260 24.49
14 Oklahoma 3,814,820 9,260 24.27
15 Washington 6,897,012 16,290 23.62
16 Minnesota 5,379,139 12,550 23.33
17 California 38,041,430 87,400 22.97
18 Montana 1,005,141 2,270 22.58
19 Maine 1,329,192 2,930 22.04
20 North Dakota 699,628 1,540 22.01
21 Nebraska 1,855,525 4,060 21.88
22 Missouri 6,021,988 12,620 20.96
23 Utah 2,855,287 5,890 20.63
24 Nevada 2,758,931 5,640 20.44
25 Louisiana 4,601,893 9,310 20.23
26 Georgia 9,919,945 19,520 19.68
27 Texas 26,059,203 49,350 18.94
28 New Mexico 2,085,538 3,830 18.36
29 Ohio 11,544,225 21,160 18.33
30 Wyoming 576,412 1,050 18.22
31 Arizona 6,553,255 11,740 17.91
32 Hawaii 1,392,313 2,460 17.67
33 New Hampshire 1,320,718 2,280 17.26
34 Kansas 2,885,905 4,950 17.15
35 Idaho 1,595,728 2,700 16.92
36 South Dakota 833,354 1,400 16.80
37 Wisconsin 5,726,398 9,330 16.29
38 North Carolina 9,752,073 14,810 15.19
39 South Carolina 4,723,723 7,140 15.12
40 Arkansas 2,949,131 4,420 14.99
41 Alabama 4,822,023 7,040 14.60
42 Iowa 3,074,186 4,450 14.48
43 Alaska 731,449 1,020 13.94
44 Oregon 3,899,353 5,070 13.00
45 Kentucky 4,380,415 5,600 12.78
46 Tennessee 6,456,243 8,010 12.41
47 Puerto Rico 3,667,084 4,440 12.11
48 Indiana 6,537,334 7,680 11.75
49 Mississippi 2,984,926 3,220 10.79
N/A Michigan 9,883,360 N/A N/A
N/A Rhode Island 1,050,292 N/A N/A
N/A West Virginia 1,855,413 N/A N/A
U.S.A. (STATES, EXCL. P.R.) 301,124,975 714,240 23.72
U.S.A. (BLS, EXCL. P.R.) 313,914,040 759,800 24.20
New England 13,512,412 39,270 29.06
Mideast 48,632,365 189,290 38.92
Great Lakes 36,683,212 72,980 19.89
Plains 20,749,725 41,570 20.03
Southeast 78,093,807 151,360 19.38
Southwest 38,512,816 74,180 19.26
Rocky Mountains 11,220,150 27,710 24.70
Far West 53,720,488 117,880 21.94

‘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, which varies significantly among states and regions. This creates a statistic I call “Idle Attorneys”: licensed attorneys who are not directly employed in the profession. They may be judges, legislators, or businesspeople whose careers advanced due to their law degrees; or, they may be people who were unable to find careers as lawyers, are working in fields that don’t require law degrees, are choosing not to work, or are unemployed yet still maintaining active licenses.

The correlation coefficient between the number of law schools per capita (omitted) and idle attorneys per capita for the BEA regions is 0.60. Using data from the Law Graduate Oversupply page, the correlation between surplus graduates per capita (2013, omitted) and idle attorneys per capita is 0.86 by BEA region. I wouldn’t use this information as decisive evidence that excess law school enrollments lead to idle attorneys—there are better arguments out there—but it is an interesting relationship. Readers should note that the distribution is highly skewed, with nearly a third of idle attorneys living in New York and California.

# STATE/REGION NO. LAWYERS ACTIVE AND RESIDENT (2012) NO. EMPLOYED LAWYERS (2012) NO. IDLE LAWYERS NO. IDLE LAWYERS PER 10,000 RESIDENTS PERCENT IDLE
1 Puerto Rico 13,282 4,440 8,842 24.11 66.6%
2 Oregon 12,276 5,070 7,206 18.48 58.7%
3 Alaska 2,418 1,020 1,398 19.11 57.8%
4 Kentucky 12,891 5,600 7,291 16.64 56.6%
5 Connecticut 20,842 9,390 11,452 31.90 54.9%
6 Mississippi 6,955 3,220 3,735 12.51 53.7%
7 Tennessee 16,947 8,010 8,937 13.84 52.7%
8 Indiana 15,512 7,680 7,832 11.98 50.5%
9 Alabama 14,135 7,040 7,095 14.71 50.2%
10 New York 163,798 82,220 81,578 41.68 49.8%
11 Louisiana 18,327 9,310 9,017 19.59 49.2%
12 Missouri 24,276 12,620 11,656 19.36 48.0%
13 Minnesota 23,774 12,550 11,224 20.87 47.2%
14 Massachusetts 42,483 22,640 19,843 29.86 46.7%
15 California 159,824 87,400 72,424 19.04 45.3%
16 Ohio 37,745 21,160 16,585 14.37 43.9%
17 Illinois 60,069 34,810 25,259 19.62 42.0%
18 New Jersey 40,997 24,150 16,847 19.00 41.1%
19 Hawaii 4,107 2,460 1,647 11.83 40.1%
20 Kansas 8,156 4,950 3,206 11.11 39.3%
21 Wisconsin 15,364 9,330 6,034 10.54 39.3%
22 Iowa 7,308 4,450 2,858 9.30 39.1%
23 Texas 80,657 49,350 31,307 12.01 38.8%
24 Wyoming 1,668 1,050 618 10.72 37.1%
25 Pennsylvania 48,947 31,260 17,687 13.86 36.1%
26 District of Columbia 51,271 33,460 17,811 281.68 34.7%
27 Maryland 22,477 14,800 7,677 13.05 34.2%
28 New Hampshire 3,449 2,280 1,169 8.85 33.9%
29 Georgia 28,520 19,520 9,000 9.07 31.6%
30 Washington 23,741 16,290 7,451 10.80 31.4%
31 New Mexico 5,513 3,830 1,683 8.07 30.5%
32 North Carolina 21,280 14,810 6,470 6.63 30.4%
33 Oklahoma 12,978 9,260 3,718 9.75 28.6%
34 Idaho 3,627 2,700 927 5.81 25.6%
35 Arkansas 5,928 4,420 1,508 5.11 25.4%
36 South Carolina 9,537 7,140 2,397 5.07 25.1%
37 South Dakota 1,865 1,400 465 5.58 24.9%
38 Montana 3,008 2,270 738 7.34 24.5%
39 Maine 3,865 2,930 935 7.03 24.2%
40 Colorado 20,768 15,800 4,968 9.58 23.9%
41 Florida 66,556 51,860 14,696 7.61 22.1%
42 Utah 7,309 5,890 1,419 4.97 19.4%
43 Arizona 14,471 11,740 2,731 4.17 18.9%
44 Nebraska 4,983 4,060 923 4.97 18.5%
45 Nevada 6,850 5,640 1,210 4.39 17.7%
46 Virginia 24,091 20,430 3,661 4.47 15.2%
47 Vermont 2,270 2,030 240 3.83 10.6%
48 North Dakota 1,546 1,540 6 0.09 0.4%
49 Delaware 2,853 3,400 -547 -5.96 -19.2%
N/A Michigan 33,692 N/A N/A N/A N/A
N/A Rhode Island 4,060 N/A N/A N/A N/A
N/A West Virginia 4,854 N/A N/A N/A N/A
U.S.A. (STATES, EXCL. P.R.) 1,188,232 714,240 473,992 15.74 39.9%
U.S.A. (BLS, EXCL. P.R.) 1,230,838 759,800 471,038 15.01 38.3%
New England 72,909 39,270 33,639 24.89 46.1%
Mideast 330,343 189,290 141,053 29.00 42.7%
Great Lakes 128,690 72,980 55,710 15.19 43.3%
Plains 71,908 41,570 30,338 14.62 42.2%
Southeast 225,167 151,360 73,807 9.45 32.8%
Southwest 113,619 74,180 39,439 10.24 34.7%
Rocky Mountains 36,380 27,710 8,670 7.73 23.8%
Far West 209,216 117,880 91,336 17.00 43.7%

Here’s a chart sorted by the number of idle attorneys per capita.

Idle Attorneys Per 10,000 Residents (2012)
And here’s a map of idle attorneys per capita by BEA region. The concentration in the northeast is quite apparent.

Idle Attorneys Per Capita (BEA Regions, 2012)

Fin.

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