Welcome to the 2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession

The American Bar Association’s annual compilation of statistics and trends in the U.S. legal profession.

A snapshot of the legal profession

The third annual ABA Profile of the Legal Profession, published in July 2021, includes stats and analysis on:

  •  Demographics – Lawyers by gender, race and ethnicity
  • Growth of the profession 1900-2021
  •  Number of lawyers in every state and county
  • Wage trends
  • Law school applications and enrollment
  • Law student demographics
  • Employment trends after law school
  • Bar passage rates
  • Law school debt
  • Diversity on the bench
  • Pro bono work
  • Legal technology trends
  • Well-being of lawyers, judges and law students
  • Lawyer discipline trends

Download the PDF or read the report on your devices!

Responsive & Mobile. Read the Profile report on the go. This year’s report has a fully responsive layout – fits perfectly on various displays and resolution, on desktop screens, laptops, tablets and phones.

Download the full report. Click below to get the entire 140-page 2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession.

Diversity on the Bench

The judiciary is overwhelmingly dominated by judges who are white and male.

  • 80% of federal judges are white
  • 72% are men
  • 22 states have no justices of color on their highest courts
  • 28 states have no Black justices
  • 40 states have no Hispanic justice

Pro Bono Work

The ABA recommends that all lawyers perform at least 50 hours a year of pro bono services to those unable to pay.

  • 20% of lawyers meet this aspirational goal
  • 52% of lawyers provided pro bono service in the past year
  • The average lawyer works 37 pro bono hours a year
  • Lawyers who are 70 to 74 years old work an average of 58 pro bono hours a year

Message from the ABA President

“The pandemic hit the legal profession in many ways. How hard? The answer is right here, in the 2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession.

There is a lot more to learn in this fascinating report, now in its third year. Anyone interested in learning more about the profession’s past – and its future – can find it in the ABA Profile of the Legal Profession.”

ABA President, Patricia Lee Refo

Video summary of 2021 Profile of the Legal Profession:

Panel Discussion: “Returning to the Office … or Not”

Lawyer Well-being

As of June 1, 2021, 212 legal employers – including law firms, corporations and universities – have signed the ABA well-being pledge and committed to taking concrete steps to improve lawyer wellness.

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Legal Technology

The most popular social media networks for lawyers are LinkedIn (88%), Facebook (39%), Twitter (23%), Martindale (15%), Avvo (14%) and Instagram (13%).

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Law School Debt

More than 90% of new lawyers surveyed took out law school loans. Their average total education debt upon graduation – money owed from law school, undergraduate school and other education expenses – was $120,000.

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From 2000 to 2020, lawyer salaries increased faster than the rate of inflation. Lawyer salaries rose 63% while the inflation rate was 53%.

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Free Legal Answers

Since its launch in 2016, ABA Free Legal Answers has received 168,000 questions. More than 9,500 lawyers from across the country have volunteered to answer those questions.

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Women in the Legal Profession
Half of all female lawyers said they experienced unwanted sexual conduct at work, and 1 in 4 women said they avoided reporting sexual harassment due to fear of retaliation.

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