Study reveals lawyers leaving the practice of law

February 18, 2014
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A unique longitudinal study following the career paths of lawyers who passed the bar in 2000 has found that 24 percent – nearly a quarter of them – were no longer practicing law in 2012.

Researchers from After the JD, which is a project of the American Bar Foundation, have been following a national sample of lawyers who passed the bar in 2000, interviewing participants in 2003, 2007 and 2012. The panel presented some preliminary results from its 2012 survey at the American Bar Association’s midyear meeting in Chicago earlier this month.

The statistic that jumps out the most is the number of non-practicing attorneys. In 2003, 14.7 percent of respondents were not practicing law. But the data also shows some trends concerning where attorneys are ending up. In 2003, 38.4 percent of survey respondents worked in the business sector; by 2012, 27.7 percent reported working in that area. In 2003, 53.3 percent of Top 10 law school graduates reported working for a firm with at least 251 attorneys; by 2012 that number had fallen to 16.8 percent.

Another interesting stat: When the 2012 respondents were asked if they would go to law school if they had to do it all over again, the average response was 4.91, rated on a scale of 1 to 7.

You can read other stats on the ABA’s website. Visit the American Bar Foundation’s website for more on the After the JD project.

Anyone who passed the bar in 2000 care to chime in with how your legal career in 2012 compared to what you were doing in 2003?
 

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  • Error Reporting the Stats
    A 10 percent increase is not the same as an increase of 10 percentage points. Since the number not practicing law went from 14.7 to 24.1, it should be described as an increase of nearly 10 percentage points.
  • 39% Increase
    Ben, the reporter did get the increase wrong but not as you say. It went from 14.7% in 2003 to 24.1%. That's a difference of 9.4%. Thus, between 2003 and 2013, the increase in attorneys out of the profession ix 9.4% x 100 divided by 24.1% which is a 39% increase in 2000 attorneys leaving the profession from 2003 to 2014.
    • Depends on the base number
      Paul - I stand by my statement that the proper way of describing this is that it's an increase of nearly 10 percentage points (actually, 9.4 as you point out), as opposed to a 10% increase. I was not making any comment on what the actual percent increase was. Rather, I was trying to clarify the use of the terms "percent increase" and "percentage point increase." It turns out that the actual percent increase is more like 64%. For instance, say there were 40,000 attorneys in the class of 2000. If 14.7% of them were not practicing in 2003, that would be 5,880 people. If 24.1% of them were not practicing in 2012, that would be 9,640 of them. 9,640 is about a 64% increase over 5,880 ((9,640-5,880)/5,880 = .6395).
      • no your wrong
        arguing like a bunch of lawyers

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      1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

      2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

      3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

      4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

      5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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