Central to all offices of lawyers is the attorney - either the sole practitioner or the association of attorneys in a firm. Oregon's professional problem solvers tackle legal questions and associated issues ranging from the most complex business ventures to counseling a client on the rights and responsibilities of a home-owners' contract, and everything in between.
Since employment in law offices is dependent on the presence of an attorney, the number of individuals entering the practice of law has an important ripple effect. Reports from the National Association for Law Placement reveal the close relationship between the economy's health and employment rates of new law school graduates.
Just prior to a recessionary period in the early 2000s, nationally, the class of 2000 reported a 90 percent employment rate; as the economy slowed, this rate continued to drop steadily until 2005. Yet, by the time the economy peaked in 2007, that year's law school graduates reported a 92 percent employment rate. The effects of the Great Recession noticeably reduced employment opportunities: declines for the class of 2008 (90% employment) continued through the class of 2012 (85% employment, rates not seen since 1994).
During economic slowdowns, several common shifts in employment have been observed. Established firms may elect to hire an inexperienced attorney in a less-expensive paralegal position. Or, the new attorney, having not received an acceptable job offer at a firm, may opt for self-employment. The decrease in hiring and resulting over-supply of new attorneys has also been confirmed by a recent report from the American Bar Journal (June 2013), which listed its top-10 states having the highest law school graduate "glut"; Oregon ranked eighth with 2.98 law graduates for each job opening. Responding to this generous supply and resulting decreased demand for attorneys, law school enrollments have also declined in recent years.
For much more detail on lawyers' offices and the geography of these offices, read Annette Shelton-Tiderman's full article at our website, QualityInfo.org.