These 10 states have the worst law-grad glut

  • Print

Updated: Overall there are more than two law grads for every estimated job opening, according to data compiled by a lawyer who is a legal blogger. But it’s much worse in some parts of the country.

At least one state has more than six law grads for each legal job opening, and several states have three or more grads per job, according to Matt Leichter, author of the blog Law School Tuition Bubble. He ranked the states with the worst law grad gluts, giving Mississippi an ignominious No. 1 rank after finding it had 10.53 law grads for each projected legal job opening.

Mississippi fared the worst because of a poor annual jobs outlook of just 30 legal openings per year between 2010 and 2020. But now Leichter is taking a closer look at the numbers, and he wonders if the figure is based on a typo by one of his sources, Career One Stop. Perhaps the number of estimated new jobs each year should have been 130, Leichter speculated in a blog post. He is awaiting word from Career One Stop on whether a mistake was made.

The Atlantic summarizes Leichter’s findings, reported at the Am Law Daily.

Leichter’s legal job statistics are based on estimates of job growth and replacement positions between 2010 and 2020 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and state governments. The number of legal grads is from ABA-accredited law schools.

Mississippi’s rank may change, but at this point Leichter says these are the top 10 worst states, based on the number of law grads for each job opening:

• Mississippi (10.53 law grads for each job opening, according to initial numbers)

• Michigan (6.48 law grads for each job opening)

• Delaware (4.20 law grads for each job opening)

• Nebraska (4.04 law grads for each job opening)

• Vermont (3.50 law grads for each job opening)

• Massachusetts (3.27 law grads for each job opening)

• Indiana (3.03 law grads for each job opening)

• Oregon (2.98 law grads for each job opening)

• Louisiana (2.95 law grads for each job opening)

• New York (2.92 law grads for each job opening)

At first glance, the best states are Nevada and Wyoming, where there are fewer law grads than jobs. Alaska was also one of the best because it had no grads from ABA-accredited law schools. When Leichter ran the numbers based on new bar admittees, rather than law grads, there was still an oversupply of lawyers in those states. (Leichter may revise the admittee numbers for Nevada and a few other states, but it doesn’t change the basic conclusion that Nevada will have an oversupply of admittees.)

Leichter took another look at his figures after University of Mississippi law dean Richard Gershon suggested that Career One Stop made an apparent error. Gershon told the ABA Journal that Mississippi had 165 annual legal openings, rather than 30, but Leichter says Gershon’s figures are from a reporting period two years ago.

Gershon cites other evidence that Career One Stop is wrong: His school’s career services office is placing more students in the state per year than the 30 new jobs predicted for the entire state.

Updated on June 6 to include new information on the Mississippi statistics from Leichter.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.