Can someone please explain to me why lawyers cost so much if there is a surplus of them?

This concept seems to violate principles of supply and demand. If there are too many lawyers, why would this not decrease the cost of legal representation? If a lawyer cannot find a job at a firm, why can't he or she start a firm and just charge less than the exorbitant going rate? Thanks!

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  • Yeti
    Lv 7
    2 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    There is not a surplus. Your premise is incorrect.

    There are more attorneys seeking the high paying private positions than there are such positions available.

    There are far from enough attorneys serving those in the low and middle income brackets.

    Because the cost of law school has gotten insane, you start hearing the horror stories of people with huge debt who cannot find the high paying jobs they wanted to find to pay it off.

    Some attorneys do start their own firms or just work individually, and charge more affordable rates. However, to stay afloat over time, they tend to drift towards taking the types of cases that compensate them more, such as in criminal defense, personal injury, real estate, etc. They tend to have big student loans to pay off, too.

    Lots of attorneys also find it doesn't make financial sense to start their own firm, and they go into other work entirely, like insurance or banking, where they can be better compensated and not have to function as a small business on their own. Not many people are willing to rack up over $100,000 (or $200,000) of loan debt in school, then go into more debt to start their own practice, only to charge "affordable" rates that compensate them, say, $40,000/year, when the local bank will hire them in a non-attorney role at twice the pay.

    Again, your basic presumption that there is a universal "surplus" of lawyers is incorrect. Not finding a high paying job at a private firm does not mean there's a surplus overall. And supply and demand does result in the attorneys that remain in practice charging rates the market allows.

    • Christina2 years agoReport

      Thank you. I would like to be a family law lawyer that represents middle-income individuals in a small to mid-size city who makes at least 50,000. Your response makes me think that this is feasible. My long-term boyfriend has encouraged and will pay for our living expenses while I attend.

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  • Athena
    Lv 7
    2 years ago

    What makes you think they cost so much?

    Just what is YOUR time worth ?

    • Christina2 years agoReport

      I think they cost so much because my supervisor said that his family law lawyer's hourly rate was well over $100. And...about $33/hour. Look at that...I just responded to the actual questions that you asked. You should try it!

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  • 2 years ago

    Well it seems they are still getting hired for what they charge, so evidently it is not a matter of supply and demand here.

    You're paying for a professional service.

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  • 2 years ago

    They are greedy hogs

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