Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Aging of the Profession-But Not for the Reason You Think?

The ABA Journal online posted a story on October 22, 2014 As fewer law grads become lawyers, the profession shows its age.  Perhaps not such a surprise to those of us in Elder Law World, but the legal profession is aging, just like everything else, but maybe not for the reasons we think:

In 1980, 36 percent of the nation’s licensed lawyers were under age 35, compared to just 13 percent in this age group in 2005. The figures come from The Lawyer Statistical Report, which is based on data from Martindale-Hubbell and compiled by the American Bar Foundation. Meanwhile, the median lawyer age also increased from 39 in 1980 to 49 in 2005.

The article discusses the reasons for the shrinking of the number of younger lawyers. Quoting IU Law professor William Henderson, it's "possible the decline in younger lawyers is because women, who are going to law school in increasing numbers, are more likely to drop out of the profession to raise children.." but  "this is only a partial explanation, since the woman lawyers would likely be dropping out of the profession both before and after age 35. But the percentage of lawyers aged 35 to 64 is increasing."  Henderson goes on to suggest  that "[t]he most likely explanation ... is that the rate of absorption of law grads into the licensed bar is steadily declining over time."

Although not the focus of the article, perhaps as well as fewer younger attorneys entering into the "typical" practice of law, maybe the more experienced lawyers are practicing far more years than in the past.  But that's a post for another day.


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