The Mississippi Supreme Court recently released its 2014 Annual Report.

On page 25 (pdf p. 30), the report lists trial court filings and dispositions for 2010-2014. Circuit court civil filings were as follows:

  • 2010: 25,800
  • 2011: 26,862
  • 2012: 23,553
  • 2013: 19,429
  • 2014: 19,305

In 2014 county court civil filings were 24,793 and chancery court filings were 69,100, both significant drops from 2010 levels. Miss. Supreme Court

The good news for civil litigation attorneys is that the decrease in filings that has marked a long-term recession in the Mississippi legal industry appears to be bottoming out.

The bad news is that there is nothing happening in Mississippi to suggest that there will be an increase in legal work in the foreseeable future. Also, competition for the existing work continuously gets fiercer due to a combination of factors.

Mississippi’s economy, which is one of the worst in the nation, is not growing as mentioned in this recent flag post. A growing economy would be good for the legal industry because the growth would spurn more deals, developments, construction, disputes and accidents. All of this would create work for lawyers. But I don’t see anything encouraging about Mississippi’s future economic prospects.

Because I blog about these issues, I am often asked when I think things will improve for Mississippi lawyers or what would lead to an improvement. My response is that it’s not going to get better. As much as I hate this saying, it is what it is.

There is a talk on the street about a lot of the big firms struggling. I also have more and more big firm litigators telling me that a large percentage of their work is on cases pending outside Mississippi. This leaves me wondering whether a lawyer building a multi-state practice would be better served practicing out of Jackson or a larger city such as Nashville or Atlanta. The latter makes more sense to me.

In retrospect, a Mississippi lawyer relocating to someplace like Nashville 5-10 years ago looks like a shrewd move. It’s hard to figure out why it wouldn’t also be a smart move today, particularly for lawyers under the age of 40 who still have most of their career in front of them. Of course, you have to find a job somewhere else, which is a whole other issue. But I don’t get the sense that many young lawyers are trying to relocate.

Yours truly,