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?

  • 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. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

      2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

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      4. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

      5. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.