Millennials versus boomers and their comparative characteristics, quirks, and habits have been all the talk the last few years. State bars and CLE organizations are focused on the aging boomers and how that will affect their membership ranks. It made me wonder, what are the actual numbers in these generations?
This chart from the PEW Research Center shows the number of births in each generation:
While the millennial generation had 10 million fewer U.S. births than the boomer generation, it continues to increase in size through immigration. Through this immigration and the death of boomers, the millennial generation is now the nation’s largest living generation.
According to the chart above from a demographic report from the State Bar of Michigan from 2017, there are half as many millennial lawyers as there are boomer lawyers. The often overlooked generation X group exceeds both in terms of Michigan lawyers. The 2017 demographic report also shows that 692 of the current membership were admitted in 1996, while only 486 were admitted in 2011. The economy, law school admissions, and changes in the practice of law are probably all factors in that decline.
The pool from which new lawyers will join the bar is not shrinking. Young millennials are just entering college, and the PEW chart shows the generation after the millennials is even larger. The question is, will these new lawyers offset the boomers leaving the practice of law?