July 10, 2012

Lawyers Per Capita per City

When I've been to Las Vegas it has always seemed that there is a lot of advertisement there for lawyers so I've gotten the impression that the city must have a lot of lawyers.   Actually it turns out that the # of lawyers per capita in Las Vegas is actually below average for large metropolitan areas.    There are 3500 lawyers in LV and the population for the metro area is about 1.9 million.  Thats about 1.8 lawyers per 1000 people.  

DO you see a lot of TV ads or billboard ads for lawyers in your city?  Does it seem that there are a lot of lawyers around?    Whether or not you think there are a lot of lawyers around may or may not be the reality.   So what cities have more and fewer lawyers?  

Its fairly easy to get a number for lawyers per capita.   We just have to find the number of lawyers per city and divide by the population.   I pulled the list of 25 largest metropolitan areas and their populations for 2011 off of Wikipedia and I got the number of lawyers per city from the May 2011 metropolitan area occupational employment and wage data from the BLS site.  To make the numbers easier to digest I figured the number of lawyers per 1000 people.

Note : I do not think this data really MEANS anything.   I'm not trying to imply anything or show anything or prove anything.  Its just data.   This information is probably only useful to resolve bar room bets.

Here is the table :

M popn lawyers per 1000
New York 19.02 69040 3.6
Los Angeles 12.94 29160 2.3
Chicago 9.50 25790 2.7
Dallas 6.53 11130 1.7
Houston 6.09 9960 1.6
Philadelphia 5.99 16890 2.8
D.C. 5.70 41050 7.2
Miami 5.67 17630 3.1
Atlanta 5.36 11830 2.2
Boston 4.59 14670 3.2
San Francisco 4.39 13850 3.2
Riverside 4.30 2360 0.5
Detroit 4.29 8750 2.0
Phoenix 4.26 7230 1.7
Seattle 3.50 7810 2.2
Minneapolis 3.32 8440 2.5
San Diego 3.14 5750 1.8
Tampa 2.82 7430 2.6
St. Louis 2.82 5570 2.0
Baltimore 2.73 6770 2.5
Denver 2.60 8350 3.2
Pittsburgh 2.36 5150 2.2
Portland 2.26 3480 1.5
San Antonio 2.19 2880 1.3
Sacramento 2.18 4980 2.3

The figure on the right is the number of lawyers per 1000 people. 

For the 25 largest cities, the median is 2.3, the average is 2.5, the high is 7.2 and the low is 0.5.

Not surprisingly the city with the most lawyers per capita is Washington D.C.    There are a lot of legal fields represented in Washington.  Most of the lobbyists and government law makers are lawyers.   After D.C. the highest grouping is in New York.  

The lowest concentration is 0.5 in Riverside.   However that is a misleading number.  Riverside is about 50 miles East of Los Angeles and is effectively a suburb of L.A.   I don't know if Riverside area is a suburb exactly but my understanding is that a lot of people live in the Riverside area and commute into L.A.

Does this mean there are too many lawyers in some areas?    No I wouldn't conclude that.  I don't have any reason to think that New York has 'too many' lawyers and that San Antonio has too few.   I would assume the number of lawyers is generally based on the demand in each city.

Other than the fairly obvious for why D.C. has a lot of lawyers, I don't know why individual cities or states would have more or fewer lawyers.   I would guess that it has to do with the system of laws in each state more than anything.   Despite what we see on TV, I don't think most lawyers run around chasing ambulances or filing multi million dollar frivolous lawsuits.   I would imagine that most lawyers are engaged in mundane things like real estate law, reviewing business contracts, handling estates and probate and stuff like that.

So what does all this mean?  Nothing much as far as I'm concerned.  I suppose if you're working on a law degree that you might consider this kind of data to determine where the jobs are. 

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