Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A state-by-state analysis of the job prospects for new law grads

From the New York Times (as you read the stats, below, keep in mind ways in which the study might over-state, or understate, the picture).

We’ve written before about the tough job market for recent law-school graduates. The climate is hard partly because of the weak economy, but also partly because the nation’s law schools are churning out many more lawyers than the economy needs even in the long run.

Now 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. (See table after the jump for full data.)

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.

California and New Jersey have the next largest gluts of new lawyers, according to EMSI.

As noted above, not every state is overproducing lawyers. Nebraska and Wisconsin actually have small deficits of lawyers. The place with the biggest shortage is the District of Columbia, which is projected to have 618 new jobs opening annually for lawyers for the next few years, but had only 273 bar-passers in 2009. (Update: As several readers observed in the comments, the District of Columbia waives in lawyers who are barred in other states, meaning that these figures probably underestimate the number of newly-minted lawyers in the nation’s capital. If you know how to calculate a better estimate for this figure, please e-mail us.)

The District of Columbia has the highest median wage for lawyers in the country: $70.96 an hour.

 
2010-15 Est. Annual Openings
2009 Bar Exam Passers
2009 Completers (IPEDS)
Surplus/Shortage
Median Wages
New York
2,100
9,787
4,771
7,687
$56.57
California
3,307
6,258
5,042
2,951
$50.61
New Jersey
844
3,037
787
2,193
$43.84
Illinois
1,394
3,073
2,166
1,679
$51.54
Massachusetts
715
2,165
2,520
1,450
$43.89
Pennsylvania
869
1,943
1,697
1,074
$46.05
Texas
2,155
3,052
2,402
897
$41.55
Florida
2,027
2,782
2,781
755
$36.39
Maryland
560
1,277
548
717
$41.46
Missouri
362
943
908
581
$39.96
Connecticut
316
880
510
564
$43.69
North Carolina
503
1,032
279
529
$37.79
Minnesota
378
888
948
510
$43.69
Ohio
686
1,194
1,513
508
$34.69
Georgia
779
1,217
894
438
$46.11
Colorado
547
967
509
420
$40.83
Virginia
956
1,375
1,435
419
$49.34
Louisiana
357
731
810
374
$33.35
Tennessee
389
735
446
346
$37.34
Washington
619
935
678
316
$37.37
Oregon
291
594
519
303
$34.51
Indiana
339
602
825
263
$32.48
South Carolina
262
506
410
244
$33.03
Kentucky
261
478
389
217
$34.39
Nevada
219
392
143
173
$40.32
Arizona
440
607
378
167
$37.51
New Mexico
134
298
114
164
$29.78
Michigan
862
1,024
1,993
162
$35.22
Kansas
190
351
296
161
$31.16
Alabama
295
455
406
160
$37.98
Iowa
155
290
556
135
$32.16
Rhode Island
102
209
184
107
$39.65
Hawaii
76
179
88
103
$33.70
Mississippi
173
268
335
95
$28.86
Utah
308
401
283
93
$37.04
W. Virginia
100
191
152
91
$32.51
Montana
81
163
83
82
$24.96
Maine
75
153
91
78
$29.70
Arkansas
152
227
243
75
$30.83
Wyoming
40
113
80
73
$29.86
New Hampshire
92
154
146
62
$30.84
Oklahoma
326
387
489
61
$29.56
South Dakota
38
83
73
45
$29.19
North Dakota
33
63
80
30
$28.78
Idaho
128
157
97
29
$30.77
Alaska
41
66
0
25
$37.80
Delaware
116
141
235
25
$60.67
Vermont
51
55
191
4
$30.48
Nebraska
112
109
279
-3
$32.47
Wisconsin
262
248
691
-14
$36.43
D.C.
618
273
2,109
-345
$70.96
Nation
26,239
53,508
44,159
27,269
$44.22

Hat tip to Above the Law (here and here).

(jbl).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2011/06/a-state-by-state-analysis-of-the-job-prospects-for-new-law-grads.html

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Comments

I see a few problems with this study. First, at least the NY figures include a large number of foreign bar takers. How many of them stay in this country? Second, many people take the bar in more than one state. Finally, some American lawyers get jobs in foreign countries.

Posted by: Scott Fruehwald | Jun 29, 2011 3:12:35 PM

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