Yesterday, I linked to a study showing that most states are producing far more lawyers than they have job openings for lawyers. The exceptions were Nebraska, Wisconsin and the District. But both Wisconsin and D.C. allow you to practice despite having passed the bar in another state. Economic Modeling Specialists, the group behind the study, updated their work today, noting that the special rules in Washington and Wisconsin suggest that “there might not be any states with a shortage.” Here’s their graph:
The bottom line? “On the national level, there were nearly twice as many bar exam passers (53,508) in ’09 than openings (26,239).”
I speak fairly frequently with college students who are trying to figure out what to do after college and tell me they’re thinking of starting out by going to law school, “just in case.” My primary advice to them is to avoid law school unless they actually want to practice law. If you’re using law school as a fallback, why not wait until after you’ve actually fallen? But though this data probably doesn’t say much about the job prospects of graduates from top law schools, it is reason to be skeptical of the idea that a law degree is a sure path to a secure career — even if you actually do want to become a lawyer.