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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

      2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

      3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

      4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

      5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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