Thursday, January 9, 2014

More on the Legal Job Equilibrium: The National Jurist Provides its Calculations








Refining the Data Analysis Further 
and 
Adding Assumptions

The National Jurist, as promised, has followed up its December 2013 article (apparently no longer available if you don't have a subscription) with the data on which it relied to predict that an equilibrium between new legal jobs and new law grads would come in 2015.  Here is the link.

This article also predicts jobs will exceed law graduates for the graduating class of 2016, but reaches that conclusion by applying an historic average for full-time employment in "bar-passage required" jobs of 69 percent. It says:
The analysis by both [Profs. Young and Merritt] assumes that the number of [new] jobs remains flat and that the balance point between supply and demand is 100 percent full-time legal employment by graduates within nine months of graduation. 
But since NALP began tracking data in 1985, the percentage of recent graduates who were employed in full-time legal jobs has never exceeded 84.5 percent. 
In fact, from 2001 to 2008, the number of full-time bar-passage required jobs averaged 69 percent, and the number of full-time bar-passage jobs and J.D.-advantaged jobs averaged 75 percent.  That is because some graduates chose not to pursue legal employment, and others found it difficult to land a job when they failed the bar exam.  In 2012, 77 percent of all first-time takers in the U.S. passed the bar exam, a percentage very similar to the number who found full-time employment between 2001 and 2008. 
So if the 69 percent figure is used as the historic equilibrium point, The National Jurist analysis finds that the class of 2015 will be the first to return to it.  
In other words, in 2015, the graduating class will see the number of legal jobs equal the number of law grads.

The graduating class of 2016 will have better news.  It will graduate into a market where legal jobs will exceed graduates (when applying the historical average for employment in those jobs).

I am happy to say that I made a contribution to this conversation by being one of the first bloggers to attempt to calculate when the equilibrium might come.  Over time, later bloggers and commentators have refined those calculations (including myself). While my analysis included certain assumptions later bloggers modified (and criticized), my ultimate conclusion corresponds to the prediction of The National Jurist.  (That may show again that even a blind squirrel can find a nut.)

For my analysis of the topic, look at the following posts, which include links to other commentary and analysis in the updates.

P.S. This edition of The National Jurist also has a story entitled: Wanted: Rural Lawyers.  Need a Job? Many Rural Communities are Desperate for Lawyers.  

A number of ASL grads, as our founders intended, return to rural areas of the central Appalachian Mountains to provide much-needed legal services to residents of these small communities.  Our grads also provide political leadership and community service as the profiles of our distinguished alumni illustrate.

March 2, 2014 Update:  Professor Organ, who launched this conversation at the MAPLA conference, has provided his well-supported analysis of the future market for legal jobs here.

Nov. 18, 2014 Update: Analysis of new BLM calculation of legal market.  Author suggests it inflates the need for new lawyers. 

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