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The debate of too many lawyers vs. not enough jobs is ignoring the bigger problem

It’s the Economy, Stupid

The debate of too many lawyers vs. not enough jobs is ignoring the bigger problem


  1. Well said!

  2. ———QUOTE—————
    “in states sampled, the percentage of cases where at least one party is pro se is often around 70% in family law cases, and around 90% in unlawful detainer (eviction) cases. The U.S. Courts website reports that in federal court, more than one out of three cases have at least one pro se litigant. One in ten are still pro se after removing prisoner petitions from the count. And of course, public defenders nationwide are swamped with cases of people who would otherwise be pro se. So there may be a huge number of unemployed lawyers, but there is also a huge unmet legal need.”
    ———END QUOTE—————

    That sounds good, but how many of those people can actually afford to pay their lawyers enough money so that their lawyers are earning $1000/week gross at a minimum? How many of those people would be willing to do that? People’s having a need for legal services is NOT sufficient to employ attorneys. They also need to have a willingness and the ability to pay their lawyers.

    To hear you tell it, all anyone needs to do is to hang out a shingle and market themselves properly, and the paying clients will start rolling in. Obviously, it’s not that easy.

    The problem in the legal profession is not merely the economy, but also mass JD overproduction. JD overproduction is nothing new; lawyers have been struggling for decades but it wasn’t well-publicized until the Internet allowed law school scambuster blogs to begin reporting about it a few years ago.

    In fact, right now the lawyer-to-population ratio in the United States (of lawyers who graduated in the past 40 years and who are thus of working age) is about 1 lawyer for every 215 Americans. In fact, if our nation’s population remained static, the law schools would be producing enough new lawyers such that the lawyer-to-population ratio would be 1 lawyer for every 174.4 people in 40 years (based on 2009 numbers). JD overproduction is nothing new; it’s been going on for decades. That number was 1 lawyer for every 161 people based on 1983’s production, and it hasn’t been lower than 1 lawyer for every 191 people since 1973. See:


    As a result, using Bureau of Labor Statistics and ABA data, it’s very possible that fewer than 53.8% of all JDs produced over the past 40 years are employed as lawyers, and presumably many of those jobs are for low pay and/or of low quality. See:


    Consequently, if certain assumptions are made, it’s very possible that fewer than 30% of all new JDs today are able to find work in the legal profession (and much of that work may be for low pay and of low quality):


    The problem in the legal field is not merely the economy. It’s also very much JD overproduction. The great tragedy is that tens of thousands of bright ambitious young people’s lives have been absolutely destroyed by the law school scam. The amount of mental anguish unemployed lawyers suffer must be unimaginable. Imagine having spent 7 years in college, having racked up over $150,000-$200,000 worth of student loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, and being overqualified and unemployable for non-legal jobs. Imagine feeling that your life is over at age 25 or age 30. It’s too bad that the number of young JD suicides is never reported.

    What we need to do is to band together and lobby for 75% of the law schools to close (so that the backlog of unemployed and underemployed-out-of-field lawyers can enter the profession). It’s not merely a humanitarian measure, but it also makes economic sense. Our nation’s economy suffers when people invest 3 years of their lives and take on gigantic amounts of student loan debt for education that does not have economic value.

    Sadly, the ABA is continuing to accredit new law schools, and more and more colleges and universities are greedily considering opening up law schools because they are profitable cash cows. It’s very possible that we might have over 2 million JDs (who will have graduated in the past 40 years) in a few decades. See:



  3. A law professor (Paul Campos I think) who runs the blog “Inside the Law School Scam” recently published a great post addressing Michael Kemp’s suggestion that the solution to lawyer unemployment is for lawyers to open solo practices. I also recommend reading the comments to that post, some of them are heartbreaking.


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