This chart (PDF) released by the American Bar Association shows that the total number of lawyers nation-wide is up nearly 18% nationwide since 2005. The numbers are broken down by state, and a couple of things stand out:
- Florida (53.3%), Utah (46.1%), and North Carolina (33.7%) lead the states in percentage growth. The large percentage increase for North Carolina may have something to do with two law schools, Elon University School of Law and Charlotte School of Law, both opening in 2006.
- Both New York (26,581) and California (30,092) added more lawyers than Florida (25,805), but this did not result in a big percentage increase due to those states starting with about 140,000 lawyers in 2005.
- Massachusetts (-11.7%), Rhode Island (-11.8%), and Illinois (-1%) saw their lawyer numbers decrease.
- Law school enrollment dropping off a cliff in 2013 has not yet hit these numbers, but will probably make a big impact in 2016 and 2017. The ABA shows total law school enrollment dropping by nearly 20,000 between 2011 and 2013.
The steady increase in lawyer numbers nationwide has not solved the access to justice problem, mainly because the underlying economics of law school and law practice have not changed. Lawyers who graduated in the past five years are still burdened by the effects of the 2008 recession. But chances are we will soon see how the drop in law school enrollment will affect the total number of lawyers.
Featured image: “Large group of people gathered together in the shape of growing graph arrow” from Shutterstock.