The most serious problem facing lawyers? Too many colleagues, say about half of Florida's lawyers

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The most serious problem facing the legal profession today is too many lawyers, according to about half the attorneys who responded to a Florida Bar survey last year.

Since 2000, five new law schools have opened in Florida and the number of lawyers in the state has increased from 60,900 to 96,511, the Tampa Bay Times reports. In 1980, the state had only 27,000 lawyers.

Tampa criminal defense lawyer Angela Wright noted the difficulties. “Now it seems you work harder to make half of what you did in 1998,” she told the newspaper. “The economy is a reason but also the fact there are a whole lot more attorneys.”

About 25 percent of lawyers responding to the bar survey said they had adjusted their fees, and half said they didn’t expect things to get better in the near future.

Tampa lawyer Rick Terrana said that criminal defense lawyers are fighting for a smaller pool of clients who can afford private lawyers, and fees are dropping. Fees in some drug trafficking cases have dropped from $15,000 to as low as $1,500, he told the Tampa Bay Times.

Would-be lawyers are apparently getting the message. The story notes that eight of Florida’s 12 law schools had decreased enrollment last year.

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