Biglaw, Job Searches, Law Schools

The Oversupply of Lawyers in America

You aren't all getting in here.

We do not need any more lawyers. Law schools won’t tell you that, because they just want to get your money. The Obama administration won’t tell you that. They don’t want to be looked as “anti”-education. The American Bar Association won’t tell you, they’re… well I still don’t know what the hell their problem is.

But I’m willing to tell you: No. More. Lawyers.

And unlike most days when I tell you that, today I have facts. Facts printed in the New York Times.

Facts that will be ignored by thousands of prospective law students….

The Economix blog put together some stats on the massive problem of lawyer oversupply:

[A] few researchers have tried to quantify exactly how big that surplus is.

The numbers were crunched by Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. (also known as EMSI), a consulting company that focuses on employment data and economic analysis. The company’s calculations were based on the number of people who passed the bar exam in each state in 2009, versus an estimate of annual job openings for lawyers in those states. Estimates for the number of openings is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau.

According to this model, every state but Wisconsin and Nebraska (plus Washington, D.C.) is producing many more lawyers than it needs.

Yeah, remember the Emory Law professor who told her students to go work in Nebraska? She wasn’t lying.

In most of the rest of the country, we’re talking about thousands of recent grads who are simply not needed:

In fact, across the country, there were twice as many people who passed the bar in 2009 (53,508) as there were openings (26,239). A separate estimate for the number of lawyers produced in 2009 — the number of new law-school graduates, according to the National Center for Education Statistics — also showed a surplus, although it was not quite as large (44,159 new law grads compared with 26,239 openings).

In raw numbers, New York has the greatest legal surplus by far.

In 2009, 9,787 people passed the bar exam in the Empire State. The analysts estimated, though, that New York would need only 2,100 new lawyers each year through 2015. That means that if New York keeps minting new lawyers apace, it will continue having an annual surplus of 7,687 lawyers.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, instead of whatever delusional hallucinogenic you were sniffing when you decided to go to law school.

And, not for nothing, but if we’re producing twice as many lawyers than we need, is it time to close half of the law schools?

I know, every time somebody says that, students at non-elite law schools get their feelings all hurt. So how about this: let’s just close all the law schools ranked with an even number by U.S. News. Yale stays, HLS goes, Stanford stays, Columbia goes. I would be fine with that.

Why? Because we have twice as many lawyers as we need, and prospective individual students are too damn stupid to do the math. We are getting to a point where at law school orientations, law school deans should say: “Look to the left, look to the right, you and one of the people you just looked at are freaking idiots.”

Oh, but I suppose that all of those unneeded lawyers are going to go out and “hang a shingle.” Yeah, because unneeded lawyers creating unnecessary legal work is exactly what America needs.

Do they even teach math in schools anymore?

The Lawyer Surplus, State by State [Economix / New York Times]

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