ABA survey finds 1.3M lawyers in the U.S.

There are more than 1.3 million lawyers in the United States, according to the 2022 ABA National Lawyer Population Survey, and that number has barely changed over the past decade.

The survey also found growing numbers of women, Asian Americans, Hispanics and mixed-race lawyers in the legal profession.
The number of Black lawyers remained nearly constant over the past decade.

The annual survey of state bars and licensing agencies includes a national count of lawyers going back to 1878. It also notes the number of active resident lawyers in each state for the past decade as well as the percentage of lawyers by gender, race and ethnicity from 2012 to 2022.

Among the survey’s findings:

• Slower growth: The legal profession grew slowly in recent years. During the past decade, the number of lawyers nationwide rose just 6.6 percent — from 1,245,205 in 2012 to 1,327,010 in 2022.

The profession grew faster in the 20th century — from 114,000 lawyers in 1990 to just over one million in 2000. That’s nearly a nine-fold increase over the century.

The number of lawyers exploded in the 1970s when it ballooned from 326,000 lawyers in 1970 to 574,000 in 1980.

• States One in four lawyers live in just two states — New York (187,2467 lawyers) and California (170,306 lawyers). Combined, they have 27 percent of the nation’s lawyers.

North Dakota is the state with the fewest lawyers — 1,685. Ten states lost lawyers over the past decade, led by Alabama (down 15 percent), Alaska (down 12 percent) and Ohio (down 8 percent).

• Gender: More than one third of all lawyers are women and that number is growing. Ten years ago, 33 percent of all lawyers were female. Today, it is 38 percent.

• Race and ethnicity: The share of Asian American lawyers in the profession is now almost the same as the share of Asians in the U.S. population. The survey found that 5.5 percent of all lawyers are Asian American. The U.S. population is 5.9 percent Asian.

Hispanics, however, are still underrepresented in the legal profession. The survey found 5.8 percent of all lawyers are Hispanic. The U.S. population is 18.5 percent Hispanic.

The percentage of Black lawyers is nearly unchanged over the past decade. In 2012, the survey found 4.7 percent of all lawyers were Black. Today, the number is 4.5 percent. That’s far less than the share of Black people in the U.S. population (13.4 percent).

Native Americans are the smallest racial or ethnic group among U.S. lawyers. One-half of one percent of all lawyers are Native American — nearly unchanged from a decade earlier. The U.S. population of 1.3 percent Native American.

The number of mixed-race lawyers is growing as is the number of mix-ed race individuals in the population at large. The survey found 1.2 percent of lawyers were of mixed race in 2016. Today, that number has more than doubled to 2.7 percent of all lawyers.

That’s almost identical to the share of mixed-race people in the US. population (2.8 percent).

The overwhelming majority of lawyers are still white: 81 percent according to the survey. Non-Hispanic whites are 60 percent of the national population.