2023 Profile of the Legal Profession
lawyer demographics, race and ethnicity, gender
The American Bar Association, in its steadfast commitment to charting the course of the legal profession, presents the 2023 Profile of the Legal Profession report. This endeavor, now in its fifth year, provides a detailed overview of the current landscape of our profession, ensuring transparency and driving change where it is most needed.
This comprehensive report outlines the demographics of lawyers, judges and law students, painting a clear picture of both our achievements in diversifying the legal landscape and the challenges that lie ahead. Over the past decade, the number of diverse lawyers has nearly doubled from 11% to 21%. Despite this commendable growth, our profession still lags in mirroring the nation’s demographics, where 41% of the population is non-white.
Gender representation too, though progressing, has room for improvement. A decade ago, women constituted 34% of the legal workforce; today, they make up 39%. Law schools have seen a surge with women now comprising 56% of their student population, yet, there remains a palpable gap in the number of women in senior law firm positions, indicative of the persistent ceilings yet to be shattered.
The 2023 report not only serves as an authoritative resource for legal practitioners, students and researchers but also as a beacon for DEI professionals. It provides indispensable data that can aid in structuring initiatives and pipeline programs designed to enrich and diversify our profession.
We also introduce a new pivotal chapter focusing on legal aid attorneys in this edition. Legal Services Corporation reports that a staggering 92% of low-income Americans face their civil legal issues without adequate legal counsel. This sheds light on their distribution nationwide and scarcity, the profound impact of their role, and the urgent need to increase their presence in many communities.