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Lawyer in Need of a Job? Head to North Dakota

If I were a lawyer in need of a job, the last place I would look would be Washington, D.C. Washington has the dubious distinction of having the densest population of lawyers of any jurisdiction in the United States. When I say densest, I don't mean by a small margin. On a per capita measure of lawyers per state, Washington has 276.7 lawyers for every 10,000 residents. By comparison, number two on the list, New York, has just 20.4 lawyers per 10,000 residents. That means that Washington's lawyer density outranks its next closest competitor by 1,356 percent!

No, if I were looking for work as a lawyer, I might head to one of the Dakotas or Arkansas, the states with the lowest numbers of lawyers per capita. If Washington is overlawyered, these states might actually have too few. North Dakota is at the bottom of the list, with a scarce 4.4 lawyers for every 10,000 citizens. Just above it are Arkansas with 5.3 and South Dakota with 5.8. These are states where it is every bit possible that some people have never even met a lawyer, let alone hired one.

This listing of per capita lawyers comes from the AveryIndex, a site that compiles law firm rankings and other legal industry data. I came across it by way of a post on MinnLawyer Blog. The numbers may be a bit rough. They are drawn from 2000 U.S. Census data and information available on Martindale-Hubbell as of February 2007. But they seem to fall within the ballpark of where they should land. After first- and second-ranked Washington and New York, the highest per capita numbers of lawyers are in:

    3. Delaware, 18.0
    4. Massachusetts, 14.5
    5. Connecticut, 14.3
    6. Illinois, 14.0
    7. Colorado, 13.0
    8. Georgia, 12.0
    9. Pennsylvania, 11.9
    10. Florida, 11.7

But before all the unemployed lawyers in the country pack up and move to North Dakota, maybe we should think about this. Could it be that North Dakotans like their lawyer-light way of life? Could it be that North Dakotans have less need for lawyers? Is North Dakota thin on lawyers due to a lack of supply or a lack of demand? At least we know that Washington and New York like having lawyers around and seem to find plenty for them to do. Come to think of it, if I were a lawyer in need of a job, Washington would probably be the first place I'd look.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 6, 2009 at 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)


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