The lawyer glut will probably persist for years and years, despite any recovery in the legal sector. We recall the positive sign that about 2,000 new jobs were created last month. But, with over 40,000 new JDs still landing in the marketplace annually, supply will continue to way outstrip demand.
A solution is to encourage the Baby Boomer generation in law to either retire completely, with attractive packages, or to reduce their functions. Seton Hall School of Law avoided laying off all junior faculty by working out those kinds of arrangements with senior professors.
Yes, Baby Boomers represent one factor in creating the glut. Data analysis by Robert Anderson, law professor at Pepperdine University, bears witness to that. In his blog "Witnesseth," Anderson presents statistics from the American Bar Association. They indicate that from 1980 to 2005, lawyers' median age surged from 39 to 49. Here is Anderson's coverage.
Look around the legal sector and it's obvious many of those lawyers haven't retired. One reason is that they can't afford to. They may still have the high fixed financial responsibilities of educating their children (often from several marriages). Their assets, ranging from a stock portfolio to value of real estate, might not have recovered from the financial crash. No way can they envision downsizing their lifestyle in pricey metro areas like New York and Washington D.C.
Another reason is that this is the land of capitalism. Without work, a title and an office we become invisible. Notice that U.S. Supreme Court justices hang in there a long long time. The media follow what professionals are doing right now. Lawyers who have accomplished much and see themselves as still movers and shakers usually relish that attention. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, now a business professor at Yale, chronicled in his book "The Hero's Farewell," the pain chief executive officers suffer when they retire. Here you can get more information about Sonnenfeld's thinking on Amazon.com.
In order to address the glut in a significant way, idea entrepreneurs in the legal sector have to come up with solutions about money and reduction of prestige and power. Attention, especially from the media, is among the most addictive entities in the 21st century.