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The Top 5 Worst States for Law School Grads' Job Hunting

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

When I was a recent grad, desperate for a paying gig, I looked across this fair nation. I wondered, “Where might the jobs be?” And then I realized: there were none. So, much like my forefathers, I packed on up and moved to Southern California. After all, if you’re going to be living in a refrigerator box, is there a place with weather more suited to the lifestyle?

That realization of a nationwide depression was based, mostly, on anecdotal evidence and a dearth of job ads. Now, an intrepid Law Blogger, Matt Leichter of Law School Tuition Bubble, has actually done the work of sitting around and adding up all of the jobs and the unemployed grads (and bar passers). The Atlantic has taken his work one step further and turned that data into a handy map and a big chart.

And guess what? It’s all bad.

What are the states with an under-supply of law graduates? That'd be Nevada, Wyoming, and Alaska. However, even that surplus may not exist once the migrant law grads taking bars outside of their school's state is accounted for.

This, of course, begs the question: where is it the worst? The top five are:

  1. Mississippi (10.53 law grads per job opening)
  2. Michigan (6.48)
  3. Delaware (4.20)
  4. Nebraska (4.04)
  5. Vermont (3.50)

And the five best:

  1. Alaska (0.00)
  2. Wyoming (0.91)
  3. Nevada (0.98)
  4. New Jersey (1.04)
  5. Arizona (1.09)

And the no show (data unavailable):

  1. Tennessee

If you're curious about his methodology (it involved some federal agency's job forecasts ... way over my head), here is his comprehensive write-up, full of charts, graphs, and other statistical eye candy.

Look, it's a lot of depressing data. Quite frankly, we've only seen one "glass is half-full" note on law grad employment data (you might find a job within a year) in the last few years. If you don't want to work for market wages (about $45,000 for an entry-level attorney in California, based on local job ads), this might be the time to explore other options, like stating a small firm (see our Strategist Blog) or looking for an alternative career that uses your J.D.

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