"America has a small percentage of the world's population, but over 50% of the world's lawyers. Is this a good thing?" - saved from a deleted writeup to which this one was a response
§ Actually America being the land of the most lawyers is another of those persuasive myths like people only using 10% of their brains. According to the American Bar Association the United States of America is home to 9.7 percent of the world's 7.3 million lawyers as of AD 1987.
§ Where have people miscounted? In America only licensed lawyers can appear in court or providing legal advice. For a counter example in the Netherlands there is no such monopoly. The only time a "Advocaat" is required under Dutch law is for cases before the higher courts and anyone can provide legal advice or representation in the "Kantongerechten" (lower court). So there are not a mere 2,000 lawyers in Holland and the actual number of people performing the same job can only be guessed at through the numbers of people having taken law courses or received law degrees. Most nations do not require lawyers to pass a bar exam to give legal advice, so the number of lawyers is vastly understated.
Another way in which the number of lawyers can be misstated is not considering any of the traditional occupations that serve the same function as that of a lawyer in less developed societies.
§ Lastly not every nation is as obsessive with statistics as is America. But using conservative estimates from the UNESCO's Statistical Yearbook gives us the much more reasonable 9.7% rather than the 50 or even 70% people like J. Danforth Quayle like to quote and the US is in 35th place for the percentage of lawyers in the population. Number one? The Vatican City, of course, one third of the population compared with America's .2845% of the population.