Law Degree Completions Dropped 6.6% From 2013 to 2014

Published on Aug 13, 2015

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

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For the first time in this millennium, the number of law degree completions dipped year over year. EMSI’s newly released 2014 completers data from IPEDS shows that from 2013 to 2014, law degree completions dropped by 3,092—from 46,905 to 43,813—a 6.6% decline. This is the lowest the total has been since 2008.

The plight of the over-saturated lawyer market and the surplus of new grads with huge debt (and no guarantees of a career in law) have made headlines for a while now. In 2011, EMSI saw that the data suggested a national glut of new lawyers. In 2013, Slate predicted a grim future in “The Real Problem With Law Schools: They Train Too Many Lawyers.” In 2014, we reported in Forbes that more and more lawyers were forced to pick up work on the side. And according to a July 2015 report from an American Bar Association task force, the percentage of 2013 graduates landing a permanent, full-time, bar passage-required job was only 63% at public law schools; at private law schools, the figure was only 57%.

The job market still looks dicey. Despite the 2013-2014 falloff, the ratio of law degree completions to law degree-required job openings is actually worse than in recent years. In 2009, the ratio was 2.1 completions to 1 job opening (44,376 to 21,640). In 2012, it was 2.2 to 1 (46,565 to 21,640). Based on 2014 data, the ratio is now 2.6 to 1 (43,813 to 16,606).

Below are the number of completions per state in the key years of growth (or decline): 2003, 2005, 2011, 2013, and 2014. Note that in some states, the number of completions increased from 2013 to 2014, though the national average still trends down.

State20032005201120132014% change 2013-2014California4,7595,5555,2075,5115,022-10%New York4,4024,8604,7025,0074,517-11%Florida1,9892,1612,9943,2042,922-10%Massachusetts2,3212,4222,5242,5942,424-7%Texas2,2182,5132,3672,3242,255-3%Illinois1,9302,1902,1752,2742,147-6%District of Columbia1,9362,2382,1262,2102,062-7%Michigan1,2741,5082,0682,2341,948-15%Pennsylvania1,4861,7301,7231,6871,574-7%North Carolina9018701,2431,4591,4640%Virginia1,1961,3291,3431,4481,320-10%Ohio1,4051,5971,3991,4811,299-14%Georgia7447849021,1101,061-5%Minnesota687861884949880-8%Louisiana844901797938861-9%Indiana7568608168408410%New Jersey795907785851812-5%Missouri751786894890803-11%Arizona3473184866306726%Washington5727156576576570%Tennessee48449647357463910%Maryland4945165895976102%Oregon5205185365185435%Connecticut6336235125285351%Colorado539529495485478-1%Wisconsin488487480489447-9%South Carolina216247425442408-8%Oklahoma454519464470402-17%Kentucky338389457403398-1%Alabama365388411427386-11%Iowa375391455422383-10%Mississippi286336315376355-6%Utah286296291292266-10%Arkansas202268266274262-5%Nebraska2702902822502521%Delaware312335247273242-13%Kansas278335312314236-33%Rhode Island112165158174172-1%Nevada1301271311301439%Vermont154171175203131-55%West Virginia144142124129127-2%New Hampshire13111414610712514%Idaho97981051191201%New Mexico105971021101111%Hawaii729899104100-4%Maine6395909791-7%Montana8480848483-1%South Dakota588455618024%North Dakota6565817775-3%Wyoming6378747872-8%Alaska000000%Totals39,13143,48244,52646,90543,813-7%Source: EMSI 2015.2 Class of Worker

For more on EMSI data—available at the county, MSA, and ZIP code level—or to see data for your region, contact us. Follow EMSI on Twitter (@DesktopEcon) or check us out on LinkedIn and Facebook.