State Bar of Michigan Data Confirms Improved Law-Related Employment

Cooley’s President and Dean, Don LeDuc, is publishing commentaries on the Law School, legal education, legal employment, and related topics.  In three new commentaries, President LeDuc takes on a variety of misstatements and misinformation about legal employment, showing that legal unemployment in Michigan remains low while legal employment is increasing.  And Cooley itself is hardly “flooding the market” with law graduates in Michigan.

Unemployment Among Michigan’s Lawyers Remains Low

Despite the persistently slow economic recovery and contrary to popular misconception, unemployment among Michigan’s licensed lawyers remains low, according to data provided by the State Bar of Michigan. This analysis is based on their report entitled Statewide and County Demographics (2013-14), which includes data covering the active, licensed, Michigan resident members of the State Bar of Michigan as of July 2013.  This is so whether using the State Bar of Michigan’s definition of “unemployed” or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ definition.

Employment Among Michigan’s Lawyers Is Increasing

Employment of Michigan lawyers increased by 5.2% over the past three years, according to the same State Bar of Michigan data.     

The State Bar reports employment by a wide range of occupational categories such as private practice, academia, the judiciary, corporate counsel. legal services, and the like.  With a single exception—military, which lost 3—all employment categories showed an increase in real numbers, ranging from 8 in law schools to 585 in private practice.  The distribution among the categories during the past three years was quite consistent, with the largest change being a 1.0% decline among those reporting employment in private practice.

As with unemployment figures, the employment data undermines arguments about the job market and the impact of recent law school graduates on that market.  Over the past three years, the number of licensed lawyers increased 1,141, while the number of lawyers reporting employment increased by 1,508. 

Another frequent assertion is that recent graduates are taking jobs that are not “law” jobs.  The date includes a category labeled “non-law related.  However, the number reporting employment in that category grew at nearly the exact rate as the growth in employment overall (5.1% to 5.2% overall), and the percentage of Michigan lawyers reporting such employment in 2013 is identical to that in 2010 (both at 4.8% of total employment).

Cooley’s Graduates Constitute a Representative Proportion of the Lawyers in Michigan

Of late, statements have circulated claiming that Cooley is flooding the market with new graduates, driving down employment among Michigan lawyers.  This is patently not the case.  Of Michigan’s lawyers, Cooley’s graduates constitute 16.6% of the bar, third among the five Michigan law schools.  Here is the order:

Wayne State has the largest share at 21%.  MSU/DCL is second at 17.4%.  Cooley is third at 16.6%.  UD-Mercy is fourth at 14.1%.  Michigan is 5th at 9.3%.  Graduates from all other law schools constitute 21.5% of the Michigan bar.

In Sum

In sum, unemployment among Michigan lawyers remains quite low and total employment of Michigan lawyers has increased faster than the increase in new members.  Cooley’s graduates certainly are not flooding the market of Michigan’s lawyers.


Click here for all of President LeDuc’s commentaries.

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Filed under About Cooley Law School, History, Latest News and Updates, The Value of a Legal Education

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