Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2 million attorneys?

On the JD Underground forum a poster suggested that our nation would surpass having 2 million attorneys within 20 years.  So, I thought it might be fun to guesstimate when we might actually attain that number, assuming a consistent rate in the increase of JD production, that the federal government and banks will continue to loan students gobs of money for worthless degrees, and that ambitious but naive people will continue to want to enroll in law school (and burden themselves with $120,000-$185,000+ of debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.)  Also, as we have done in the past, let's assume that lawyers only stay in the labor market for 40 years.

First, let's determine the rate of the increase in JD production based on data from the past 10 years.  To determine the percentage increase, take the number of JD's awarded in one year (year A), subtract it from the number of JDs awarded in the next year (year B) and then divide by the previous year (year A).  Then we add up the differences from those ten years and divide by ten to obtain the average increase.  I calculate that the average increase is 0.01684 or 1.684%.

Year JDs Awarded Difference
2000 38,158 -0.0065
2001 37,910 0.0184
2002 38,606 0.0070
2003 38,875 0.0296
2004 40,024 0.0662
2005 42,672 0.0284
2006 43,883 -0.0083
2007 43,518 0.0016
2008 43,588 0.0095
200944,0000.0227
Sum0.1684
Average Increase0.01684 or 1.684%

Without any year-over-year increase the amount of new JD production would be stuck at about 45,000 per year (the number for 2010).  At that rate the total amount of JDs in the U.S. would max-out at 1.8 million in 40 years.  However, since the ABA continues to accredit new law schools and is even considering accrediting foreign law schools, it seems unlikely that the amount of JD production won't increase.

So, assuming a consistent rate of increase of 1.684%, we can calculate future JD production.  (Multiply the previous year's amount of JD production by 1.01684.)  Then we need to gather the data in 40 year chunks and add it up.

Year JDs Awarded
1963 9638
1964 10491
1965 11507
1966 13115
1967 14738
1968 16007
1969 16733
1970 17477
1971 17006
1972 22342
1973 27756
1974 28729
1975 29961
1976 32597
1977 33640
1978 33317
1979 34590
1980 35059
1981 35604
1982 34847
1983 36390
1984 36688
1985 36830
1986 36122
1987 35479
1988 35702
1989 35521
1990 36386
1991 38801
1992 39082
1993 39915
1994 39711
1995 39355
1996 39921
1997 41115
1998 39456
1999 39072
2000 38158
2001 37910
2002 38606
2003 38875
2004 40024
2005 42672
2006 43883
2007 43518
2008 43588
2009 44000
2010 45000
2011 45758
2012 46528
2013 47312
2014 48109
2015 48919
2016 49743
2017 50580
2018 51432
2019 52298
2020 53179
2021 54074
2022 54985
2023 55911
2024 56852
2025 57810
2026 58783
2027 59773
2028 60780
2029 61803
2030 62844
2031 63902
2032 64979
2033 66073
2034 67185
2035 68317
I calculate that in 2034, the number of JDs will be 1,994,766 (JDs produced from 1995 to 2034).  We pass the 2 million mark in 2035 when the 39,355 produced in 1995 retire and are replaced by 68,317 freshly-minted JDs from 2035, bringing the number up to 2,023,728.
Thus, by 2035 the number of unemployed and underemployed-involuntarily-out-of-field JDs will be staggering and could conceivably pass the 1 million mark.  Will the ABA and/or the federal government ever stop this madness?  I highly doubt it.

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EDIT. As evidence that this seemingly nonsensical scenario may not be as far-fetched as it may seem, consider the fact that several colleges are planning to open new law schools in the future (and to presumably seek ABA accreditation).  Some of the new or planned schools are: Concordia University School of Law, Louisiana College School of Law, University of North Texas College of Law, a law school at Binghamton University, Southern New England School of Law (U. Mass), and Belmont University College of Law.

As long as students can continue to easily obtain loans and law schools continue to serve as university profit centers, more two-bit colleges will want to open their own law schools. 2 million lawyers, here we come.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

At a certain point the bottom will fall out. There is still widespread ignorance about the problems in the legal field. Once there is a critical mass of broke lawyers, people will either not attend or only be willing to pay a lot less.

Anonymous said...

You're a complete fucking moran. Please killself. kthnxbye.

Ripley said...

Adverse selection goes a long way to keep the law school enrollments high. You don't meet unsuccessful alumni if the schools can help it, and people who got through a year and didn't finish or worse, those who finished and are being crushed by debt will be very reluctant to talk about it.

There's that hope of making the big bucks early, even as the interest from one's student loans piles up.

Nando said...

9:38 pm,

Please learn how to spell "moron" correctly, idiot. Apparently, you cannot grasp that there are too many lawyers - and that there will be TONS more pumped out in the next 25 years.

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