Mary Smith, ABA President 2023-2024

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.


I encourage you to delve into this report. Whether you seek a broad overview or detailed insights, it promises to enlighten and inform, catalyzing conversations and actions toward a more inclusive legal profession.


Mary Smith
President, American Bar Association
November 2023



“You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you.” We all know the classic words of the Miranda warning, but they apply only in criminal cases. There are no court-appointed attorneys in civil cases.


Enter legal aid lawyers. They provide free civil legal help to low-income Americans. But how many paid legal aid lawyers are there across the country, and where do they work?


This 2023 Profile of the Legal Profession answers those questions. Chapter 1 is a snapshot of America’s civil legal aid landscape. Our survey found more than 10,000 paid legal aid lawyers across the United States – but that is not nearly enough for everyone who needs one, and they aren’t evenly distributed across the 50 states or within states.


Funding for this important national survey was graciously provided by the Herb Block Foundation, and we thank them.


This fifth annual Profile report was produced by the ABA Media Relations and Strategic Communications Division. Our goal is to provide authoritative data for lawyers, academics and journalists. Statistics are from sources within the ABA, the federal government and legal nonprofit groups.


We are indebted to the following organizations and government agencies that provided information for this report:


Download the ABA Profile of the Legal Profession in .pdf format