Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lawyer Shortages and Salaries

According to Economix, there are three regions of the nation that suffer from a shortage of lawyers:
As noted above, not every state is overproducing lawyers. Nebraska and Wisconsin actually have small deficits of lawyers. The place with the biggest shortage is the District of Columbia, which is projected to have 618 new jobs opening annually for lawyers for the next few years, but had only 273 bar-passers in 2009.

Given this shortage, it is perhaps unsurprising that the District of Columbia has the highest median wage for lawyers in the country: $70.96 an hour.
I suspect that by "$70.96 an hour" they mean that if you multiply $70.96 by 2,000 (a forty hour week with two weeks of vacation) you end up in the neighborhood of $140,000 per year. But... alas, lawyers in that pay range don't have the luxury of a forty hour week. I think an accurate figure is probably more along the lines of $40 per hour. (Or, if you were to compare the compensation to a job that pays overtime, perhaps a bit over $30.)


  1. Agreed. I always hated reading about average lawyer salaries back in the day. One of my Twitter pals makes probably six figures or more but he literally works 13 hours a day, at least 6 days a week. So if you break it down to 80 hours per week, 4000 per year...hey, I'm making more as a 7 hour/day, 180 day a year schoolteacher!!! (Well, until the new budget goes through...and presuming I get called back :))

  2. If I were to get technical, I could also point out that bar passage rates can be misleading, particularly in a market like DC where a lot of jobs require passage of a state bar, not limited to the D.C. Bar.

  3. . . . Or you could be a little less polite and just say that the portion of the article dealing with DC appears to be total fluff.

    There is "no" shortage of lawyers in the DC area. It is not "at all" uncommon to go pick your kid up at the "cheap" coop day care and find out that two or three of the six or eight parents in the room are lawyers.

    Ditto - as Aaron pointed out, very nearly all of the jobs in question are Federal and require admission to any state or territorial bar, not just DC.

    The "high" median wage has more to do with the cost of living and the inflationary impact of the Federal Government and contractors than it does any "shortage" of lawyers.


    Anecdotally, the biggest complaint my GC has about hiring attorneys in the DC area is the absolute "deluge" of applications they get and then have to wade through . . . there is no shortage of lawyers in DC . . . now as for how many of them are good lawyers . . . : )

  4. There's no teacher shortage either. Never has been and likely never will be.

  5. . . . but I would guess there is a shortage of "good" teachers.


    PS - . . . and I too am hoping that you get called back and the deluge of pink slips turns out to be more theater than fact.