From the ABA Journal, "[t]he median age of lawyers has jumped from 39 in 1980 to 49 in 2005, suggesting that the bad job market for new lawyers may be attributable to demographic factors rather than permanent changes in the job market, a law professor says."
From Witnesseth: Law, Deals & Data, Pepperdine University law professor Robert Anderson attributes the oversupply of lawyers to many lawyers waiting longer to retire because of 401(k) accounts decimated by the financial crisis and the bulge of Baby Boomers still working their way through the system.
But we've seen that all of money lost since 2008 has been regained, so more older lawyers may have the wherewithal to retire, freeing up more jobs for law grads.
“Of course, there are those who argue that there have been permanent, structural changes to the legal market that will reduce the number of legal jobs,” Anderson writes, “and there is no denying that law school tuition remains daunting. But the demographic factors suggest the real culprit in the law school graduates' jobs dilemma of today may be the law school graduates of four decades ago.”
But, as one of my friend's noted, "failing to account for its membership living and working longer is another big oversight by the ABA in regulating the profession's size."
We are seeing this in the library field, as well. While in library school, we were constantly told that the majority of librarians were near retirement age, and they would free up jobs for us just in time for graduation. But that didn't pan out. Nearly everyone stayed on the job in the years following the financial collapse. Since the recovery, though, we have seen movement in the field. More librarians are starting to retire, but many full-time positions are being replaced with two part-time positions that don't offer benefits.