Monday, November 9, 2009

The Great Lawyer Massacre of 2009

I wish this sort of article would appear on mainstream media. Like I didn't know it, but this has been the worst year in terms of attorney jobs lost in 30 years.

Just from the top 250 firms (i.e. a small percentage of total lawyers actually), over 5000 jobs have been lost.

This is the first time the number of lawyers has dipped since 1978.

I thought this stat was interesting: "The number of attorneys in 2009 sank to 126,669 lawyers, compared with 131,928 attorneys last year. In 2008, the number of attorneys increased by 4.3 percent."

Of course, if you read my blog any at all, you should know what perked my ears up at this statistic. There are 45K law student graduates pumped into the market yearly. Isn't it funny/sad/pathetic/absurd that the number of graduates is 36% of the total number of lawyers yearly? Wow... add to that, the number of lawyers is dwindling and it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Of course, what I found the MOST interesting about this article was that it only covers the news in top firms. The top 250 firms represent the the heaven of the legal industry. So if the news in paradise is bad, how is it in the depths of hell, i.e. solos, small firms, public interest?


  1. I find that figure astounding. There are only about 127,000 practicing lawyers in the United States?!? Well, the law schools produce an additional 45,000 fresh JDs every... damn... year.

    And these 127,000 still mean too many lawyers chasing too little work. Aren't there something like 1.14 million JDs in the U.S.? I understand that many are retired; others never got licensed; some were disbarred; and many more went into law for a cup of coffee and then went into a different industry.

    But this still means that roughly only 11.1% of all JDs (still living) in the U.S. are licensed attorneys. And this is counting lots of old farts who are still lingering in courtrooms across the country. What a terrific "profession," indeed.

  2. Well, it is not an entirely accurate number because solos and people who are working at shit law firms are never included. Retirees? You will soon know that attorneys work until they die... they don't retire. I think they really can't afford to anymore. I had walking corpses at my old firm. But 127,000 attorneys have the coveted positions.

  3. Check out my entries on JDU on dinosaurs in the courtroom.

    This latter post features a 101 year old practicing lawyer and a 70 year old cop in Yakima, WA. The fact is that most of the fossils must keep working. If they want mental stimulation and a sense of purpose, they can write a book or learn how to make shelves.

  4. Ha. I really think they work for the money alone. I have had a boss and two adversaries drop dead at over the age of 79. They keep tugging because they probably have inadequate retirement savings.



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