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Excess Lawyers Per Capita Puts Puerto Rico in a Bad Place
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Puerto Rico

Summary: Based on data by attorney Matt Leichter, the lawyer per capita numbers show a lot of lawyers on the island not practicing law.

There are still some places that lawyers have a hard time finding a job as an attorney. In Puerto Rico, roughly 69 percent of lawyers are not working as an attorney, according to The Last Gen X American blog.


On the blog, Minneapolis attorney Matt Leichter claims Puerto Rico tops a list of jurisdictions and states that have the highest percentages of lawyers not actively employed as attorneys. The Commonwealth and eight states have at least half of their lawyers not working as attorneys.

Leichter refers to attorneys not working as attorneys as “excess attorneys. His way of making this list was by calculating the difference between “acting and resident” attorneys in each state or jurisdiction and the number of employer lawyers as reported by each state’s government. He used statistics from 2014 and included Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico in his calculations.

The blog explains that there may be differences in numbers between employed attorneys and not. Some of the reasons are because the attorney may be “judges, politicians, businesspeople whose careers advanced due to their law degrees; or, they may be people who were unable to find careers as lawyers, are working in fields that don’t require law degrees, are choosing not to work at all, or are unemployed yet still maintaining active licenses.” There may also be a “measurement gap.”

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The eight states that fell into the same category as Puerto Rico where at least 50 percent of the lawyers in the state were not working as lawyers were: Alaska 56.7 percent, Tennessee 53.6 percent, Alabama 51.5 percent, Missouri 50.8 percent, Louisiana 50.5 percent, Maryland 50.3 percent, Massachusetts 50.1 percent, and Minnesota 50 percent.

Leichter used data from 2016 to find which states and jurisdictions have the most lawyers per 10,000 residents. Washington D.C. had the highest percentage with a staggering 773.8. New York was second with 88.7 lawyers per 10,000 residents. When looking at the number of excess lawyers per state or jurisdiction, Washington D.C. is once again number one with 197.42 with New York in second at 39.97.

Truth be told, being an attorney in Puerto Rico might not be a very glamorous job right now. With the country facing severe economic instability, crime has increased making the country a less ideal place to live. Experts are predicting around 700 doctors to leave Puerto Rico this year, twice the amount from two years ago because of the financial problems the country is facing. In the past ten years, it is estimated that over 350,000 people have left the island with even more expected now that budget cuts are closing down schools and other government-run organizations. Things are not expected to improve anytime soon so chances are the shortage of money to pay for things like legal advice in the country will continue.

Do you think more attorneys will find themselves without work in Puerto Rico? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about Puerto Rico, read these articles:



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