In the National Jurist's "The Coming Lawyer Shortage," Loyola Los Angeles tax law professor Theodore Seto looks at the drop in law school enrollments and the aging lawyer population and predicts a bright future -- very soon -- for the thousands of young J.D.s stranded on the Great Recession underemployment island:
Unless something truly extraordinary has happened to non-cyclical demand, a degrees-awarded per capita analysis suggests that beginning in the fall of 2015 and intensifying into 2016 employers are likely to experience an undersupply of law grads, provided that the economic recovery continues.
Most people will fixate on the proviso "provided the economic recovery continues" as the key equivocation in the prediction, but it is the other caveat -- "unless something truly extraordinary has happened" -- that frames the most important question about the legal labor market today. Has something extraordinary happened? Legal futurists like Richard Susskind and Jordan Furlong say yes, that consumers of legal services will no longer buy the full-legal-services, no-questions-asked, billable hour product. Skeptics like Brian Tannenbaum think the futurists are essentially fantasists.
SBM Blog will keep you informed as the debate rages and the future calls the game.