Since it was mentioned in my last post that new law school graduates are probably having a tough time during these tough economic times given their annually increasing number, I thought it pertinent to comment on a post at Simple Justice regarding the number of lawyers per capita in New York. I looked up West Virginia for a comparison.
Scott Greenfield writes that for every 21 people in Manhattan, there is one lawyer:
For many lawyers, the “big fish in a small pond” aphorism applies. Not for lawyers in Manhattan. It’s not easy surviving, no less thriving, in an environment so lousy with lawyers. Hesitate and some other lawyer has just jumped your potential new client. Have your receptionist take a message and the next one (or 1000) will take the call.
According to the Avery Index, overall, the District of Columbia leads the states with 276.7 lawyers per 10,000 residents, with the State of New York trailing at 20.4 lawyers per 10,000 residents. Given these numbers, and having worked in D.C. before, I would have to disagree with Greenfield that New York is the most lawyer-saturated and competitive legal market. D.C. is absolutely riddled with lawyers, thanks in most part to the federal government.
West Virginia ranks number 25 on the list with 8.8 lawyers per 10,000 residents, just behind Maine. North Dakota ranks last with just 4.4 lawyers per 10,000 residents. What about individual West Virginia counties? I did my own non-scientific (and most likely non-accurate) study across five different types of West Virginia counties (bear with my math here, I may have done something horribly wrong):
Kanawha County: approximately 1 lawyer for every 106.4 people (roughly 93.98 lawyers per 10,000 residents)
Raleigh County: approximately 1 lawyer for every 528 people (roughly 18.9 lawyers per 10,000 residents)
Mercer County: approximately 1 lawyer for every 450 people (roughly 22.2 lawyers per 10,000 residents)
Greenbrier County: approximately 1 lawyer for every 430.7 people (roughly 23.2 lawyers per 10,000 residents)
Summers County: approximately 1 lawyer for every 812.5 people (roughly 12.3 lawyers per 10,000 residents)
Monroe County: approximately (but slightly more accurate) 1 lawyer for every 2,430.5 people (roughly 4.1 lawyers per 10,000 residents)
Note: these numbers will be slightly overestimated because they also include judges and non-practicing attorneys who reside in the particular county (with the exception of Monroe County since I already took the time to ferret those out)
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney
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I think you may have misread my post, since it was about the number of lawyers in the counties of New York State. Unless they’ve moved D.C., it’s usually not included in that list.
I was referring to your categorization of the “toughest legal market in the world.” That may be so, but arguably D.C. could carry that designation. Though the word “market” does imply some sort of private market at play, when in reality, the legal market in D.C. (at least it seems) consists overwhelmingly of government lawyers.