Lawyer Hiring Stats State-by-State

Forbes recently had an article discussing stats on lawyer hiring by state.

Forbes "updated the supply-and-demand outlook for lawyers by state to see if the picture looks any better than it did a few years ago. The answer [according to Forbes]: Not really. Hiring has mostly been stagnant coming out of the recession, and more than twice as many people graduated with law degrees in 2012 (46,565) as there are estimated job openings (21,640). But take away full-time, salaried positions and the real growth in the lawyer job market has come from those working on the side in part-time arrangements. It’s here where many of the job opportunities appear to be, which is hardly encouraging for newly minted lawyers deep in debt."

So how are the individual states faring? "For most states, the outlook is similar — there are between two to four graduates for every opening. The most extreme oversupplies are in Vermont (7.9 law grads for every opening), Michigan (5.4), Massachusetts (4.4), and Mississippi (4.3). Six states, meanwhile, have just about the right amount of graduates compared to openings: Alaska, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming."

Forbes computed the stats comparing graduation data from each state along with job openings in each state. My first question when seeing the data was, but what about those students who go to school in one statea nd move to another? "Keep in mind that not every law grad is going to practice or take the bar in the state in he or she graduates from. This is especially true in big law graduate-producing states such as New York and Illinois. But as Jordan Weissmann wrote in The Atlantic, '… law is in many ways still a geographically bound profession.'"

In terms of which school are producing the most graduates, "Georgetown and Harvard produce the most degrees among prestigious schools. The biggest jump in degrees has come at Duke, which went from 243 law grads in 2003 to 363 in 2012. Stanford, meanwhile, saw a small decrease (from 193 to 180). And while not among the top tier, Thomas M. Cooley Law School has gone from 438 law degrees in 2003 to 1,080 in 2012, the most in the nation."

From this data, it may be easy to argue that law school isn't the right choice, but "[t]he skills gleaned while getting a law degree are valuable, whether inside or outside the legal industry. A paper from economists at Seton Hall and Rutgers argues the average law degree-holder will earn $990,000 more over his or her lifetime than a bachelor's degree-holder."


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