There Will Be Fewer Law Firms After 2017

This is the first post in what I consider to be a very important topic to address. The title of this post should give you an idea on what I’m going to be talking about – the fact that there will be fewer law firms and attorney jobs at the end of 2017 than there are at the time of this article. The number of firms and positions for attorneys will continue to shrink, quickly, in the coming years. The reasons for this are simple. The demand for legal services is going like this:

Downward trend

While the supply of attorneys is continuing to go like this:

Upward trend

Given these trends, one can expect that attorneys will wind up looking like this:

Downward lawyer

I’m assuming you don’t want to wind up like the sad chap in the last photo. The goal of my coming posts is to help attorneys and other legal professionals understand the drastic change that is going on in the industry and what it is one can do to secure their future.

I’m going to be addressing quite a few topics in my coming posts. Each of these issues are of critical importance to any attorneys practicing law in 2017. Issues which I will address include:

  • How the profession got to it’s current state (a state that includes declining incomes, a lack of jobs for recent grads, etc.)
  • How cultural changes are reducing, and will continue to reduce the amount of work performed by attorneys
  • How technological changes will impact lawyers in 2017 and in the coming years (hint: there will be a mass reduction in the number of law firms)
  • What the future will hold for most attorneys and how you can protect yourself going forward

It is crucial that lawyers be aware of these issues. First, our country has continued to produce an excess of attorneys even though the amount of work for them to do is declining. The legal profession currently employs roughly 55,000 fewer people then it did in 20071. Since 2007, however, the number of attorneys in the US has increased by 172,2032. Gee….I can’t imagine why wages are going down and grads can’t find jobs. Second, marijuana legalization, declining marriage rates, and other factors mean that less cases will be entering the system going forward. Third, technology related to automotive safety is greatly reducing the amount of work for those in the personal injury and insurance defense fields. Now that driverless technology is here (yes, it’s here and not simply “coming in the future”), the amount of work for those attorneys is going to dry up even quicker. This isn’t even getting to what advances in artificial intelligence will do to lawyers over the next few years. Finally, while many will struggle and be forced to leave the profession, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

Am I sounding the alarm for attorneys? Yep! Do I have a reason for doing so? Yep! I think you’ll see, over the course of my coming posts, that I’ve been researching these topics for sometime and will be backing everything up with cold hard numbers (which will really make most lawyers scared for their future). Think you’re going to be immune to these trends? Well…..you’re not. Stick around for my coming articles to learn what’s happening to the legal field and how you can proceed.

Update: After completing this series I was honored to be interviewed, regarding this topic, on JDblogger.com. To listen to the interview click here. To read the various articles I wrote in this series, in order, simply click the links below (the links will open in new tabs):


References:
1The American Lawyer – Jobs Report Shows Small Gains For Legal Profession accessed at: http://www.americanlawyer.com/top-stories/id=1202769487416/Jobs-Report-Shows-Small-Gains-for-Legal-Sector?mcode=1202615731542&curindex=432&slreturn=20170107112840

2ABA National Lawyer Population Survey accessed at: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/market_research/national-lawyer-population-by-state-2006-2016.authcheckdam.pdf

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