You’ll Never Get a Lawyer Job Here, Guys

The implosion of the law school market continues. For the last few years, really ever since the Great Recession began, American has seen the once solid job market for newly minted lawyers erode. We don’t really need that many new lawyers, yet the country’s expensive law schools just keep churning them out, year after year.

But in some places it’s a lot worse than others. The Atlantic has created this frightening map of the job market for law school graduates (dark means an oversupply, light means it’s sort of a good place to get a job):

LawSchoolJobs

Nevada, Wyoming, and Alaska have an under-supply. But then, Alaska also doesn’t have any law schools at all.

The numbers differ by region. New England, which has some of the county’s highest saturation of law schools, produces almost three graduates per job opening. It’s best to be looking in the Rocky Mountain states, where there are only about 1.3 graduates per job.

As the Atlantic piece puts it, a lot of this may just be a function of the legal profession, which is not like other career fields:

Even in America’s wired up, nationally integrated economy, this is a matter of concern. That’s because law is in many ways still a geographically bound profession. Lawyers are required to pass a state bar in order to practice. And for a variety of reasons, professional recruiting tends to be regionalized. There are a few schools — Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc. — with a truly national reach. But most programs, even good ones, are lot more like the University of Minnesota Law School. It’s a fine, well-regarded institution — but at least 61 percent of its alums go to work within state.

For many of us, if we live in one place and find that the job market for our field dries up, we can just move. The nature of the legal field is such that, while it’s possible to transfer the ability to practice law from one state to another, it’s difficult, expensive, and the sort of thing most lawyers want to avoid.

That still doesn’t explain the disaster that is Mississippi, however. I honestly have no idea what’s going on there; it’s a state that somehow produces some 10.5 law graduates for every one job opening.

The Atlantic got this information the Law School Tuition Bubble, a blog run by attorney Matt Leichter.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer