You’ve surely been waiting for it and now it’s here. The part deux of why 2015 is the year the law school crisis ends (or not). American Lawyer put together a two-part series examining two key changes in measuring employment. Tipping reviewed the first part in last week’s review.
This week, the focus shifts to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and a methodology change in how employment statistics are measured. Just this year the BLS changed its methodology on how employment statistics are computed. This, consequently, changed the prediction of the job market being able to absorb 20,000 new lawyers a year to 41,000 lawyers a year. Law schools have been producing about 40,000 new attorneys each year.
The American Lawyer claims “numerous technical and analytical flaws” that don’t even pass “commonsense tests.” The first example they cite is based on American Bar Association (ABA) data. Since 2011, the ABA has reported a consistent employment rate of 55%. The argument is, despite hard data from the ABA saying otherwise, the BLS is projecting all of the sudden there will be two times as many jobs available for graduating lawyers.
The next argument used by The American Lawyer is, as of December 2014, there were 1.133 million jobs in the legal sector (including non-J.D. jobs). This is consistent with 2013 numbers and down 40,000 from 2006. Those arguing for a favorable job market after recovering from the Great Recession use the argument that job opportunities will continue to grow with the economy. So far, this has not been the case.
Obviously the confluence of BLS reports of 41,000 jobs for lawyers with ABA reported employment stats that were discussed last week will probably create an upbeat sentiment among those in legal education. However, The American Lawyer warns to be skeptical and take those statistics with a grain of salt.
Source: The American Lawyer