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New ABA Profile of the Legal Profession highlights civil legal aid in the U.S.

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ABAThe ABA will release its fifth annual Profile of the Legal Profession on November 30, with a new chapter on the state of civil legal aid in the United States.

The 2023 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession is a free, 140-page compilation of statistics and trends about lawyers, judges, and law students, gathered from within the ABA, the federal government, and nonprofit organizations. The report includes 10 sections on demographics, wages, law schools, judges, pro bono work, women in the profession, legal technology, lawyer well-being, lawyer discipline, and legal aid.

“The 2023 Profile marks both significant strides and challenges in diversity and the path forward for the legal community,” ABA President Mary Smith said. “This year, for the first time, it emphasizes the essential yet often hidden contributions of legal aid lawyers in addressing the needs of the underserved. Their work is crucial in handling the civil legal requirements of low-income Americans — a service that is as noble as it is necessary. By presenting these insights, the report acts as both a mirror and a map, reflecting our profession’s present and directing us toward a more just future in the legal field.”

Among the statistics on civil legal aid attorneys in the 2023 Profile of the Legal Profession:

  • There are more than 10,000 paid civil legal aid lawyers across the country, but there are significant differences among states and even within states.
  • Even accounting for differences in population and poverty rates, some states have many legal aid lawyers per 10,000 residents in poverty (for example, New York, Minnesota, and Maine) and some have few (for example, Mississippi, Arizona, and Georgia).
  • New York City alone has more than 1,000 paid legal aid lawyers — roughly one-tenth of the nation’s total, even though it has less than 3% of the nation’s population.
  • Rural towns and counties have roughly half the number of legal aid lawyers per capita than urbanized cities.

Among the many other updated facts in the annual Profile report:

  • There are 1.3 million lawyers in the United States. One-fourth are in two states (New York and California). More than one in five (21%) is a lawyer of color. More than a third (39%) are women.
  • South Carolina, Arizona, and Idaho have the fewest lawyers per capita: 2.1 lawyers for every 1,000 residents, or roughly half the national average.
  • For the 31st consecutive year, the percentage of law firm partners who are lawyers of color rose in 2022. It is now 11.4%.
  • Lawyers are, on average, older than the general working population.
  • For the 12th year in a row, the number of men attending law school declined. For the sixth year in a row, the number of women attending law school rose.
  • Half of all law school graduates in 2022 got jobs at law firms, and that percentage is growing. The rest got jobs in government, courts, business, public interest, and other settings. Only 5% were unemployed.
  • 1 out of 12 lawyers say they have a “virtual law practice.”

The complete ABA 2023 Profile of the Legal Profession will be available online November 30 at

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