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Demographics tip against law departments in the coming decades

As put by the Economist’s The World in 2007 at 104, “The demand for talent-intensive skills is increasing relentlessly.” As part of the support for that Cassandra warning, the article cites McKinsey research that found “over the past six years the number of American jobs that require a high level of judgment has grown three times faster than employment in general.” Worse still, in many developed countries fewer young people – future lawyers – are in the pipeline: “by 2025 the number of people aged 15-64 is projected to fall by 7% in Germany, 9% in Italy and 14% in Japan.”

Law departments, many of which face a near-term exodus of baby-boomer veteran lawyers, stare down the wrong end of the demographic barrel. The competition for talent in the coming decade will intensify and law departments, to cope, will need innovative arrangements, such as with law firm secondments, more reliance on technology, a turn toward client self help, and other ameliorative steps (See my post of Jan. 25, 2007 about UPS paying for operations employees to go to night law school and then join the law department.).

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