Lawyer Statistics to Know in 2023

From high-profile court cases to private legal consultations, lawyers play an essential role in our society. Lawyers are often seen as some of the highest-paid professionals in the country. But just how much do they earn, and what types of law do they practice? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the numbers and facts surrounding the legal industry.

Last Updated: 03.05.2023

by Rinas Bullatovci

Key Takeaways: June 2023 Data

✓ As of 2023, the total count of lawyers in the United States has reached 1.35 million.(EarthWeb)

✓ In 2023, the average hourly rate for attorneys in the United States was $300.

✓ The US legal business sector has an estimated $160 billion market share. (Goremotely)

✓ In 2023, there are 449,633 law firm businesses operating in the United States. (IBIS World)

✓ The average salary for a lawyer is $148,030. (BigLaw Investor)

✓  Lawyers are 86% more inclined to collaborate with privately owned companies. (Zippia)

✓ Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals an increase in legal employment from 1.80 million in  to 1.83 million in, a decline in unemployment rate from 1.43% to 0.93%, and significant gains in lawyer and legal support staff employment (from 1.07 million in  to 1.13 million), although their respective unemployment rates vary. (BLS)

Section 01

General Lawyer Statistics and Facts

Section 02

Number of Lawyers

Section 03

Industry Statistics

Section 04

Lawyers by State

Section 05

Lawyer Demographics

Section 06

Lawyer Employment Statistics



General Lawyer Statistics and Facts

Before we delve into the specifics, let's begin by exploring some interesting general facts and statistics about the lawyer profession.

The total market size for legal services in the United States amounts to an impressive $437 billion.

According to recent statistics on the legal profession, the business segment of law contributes a substantial $160 billion to the industry.

Medical lawyers earn an impressive hourly rate of over $110, with their annual income averaging around $150,881.

Lawyers collaborating with specialized hospitals often have even higher earnings in comparison.

Nearly half, or 49%, of legal professionals operate in private practice.

A noteworthy 16% of lawyers are employed by larger law firms that consist of 100 or more legal professionals.

Several top-tier law firms boast a workforce of 250 to 500 attorneys, with some firms even employing over a thousand lawyers, all while providing exceptional remuneration packages.

However, when combined with mid-sized law firms employing over 100 staff members, these organizations account for 16% of the total attorney workforce in the United States.

Out of the 1.35 million lawyers currently practicing in the US, only 194,000 are members of the American Bar Association and pay association dues.

The American Bar Association has certified membership from a mere 14.4% of all lawyers in the US.

Around 4% of certified and registered members of the American Bar Association are either inactive or retired.

Given the total number of attorneys mentioned in the previous statistic, this amounts to approximately 7,760 individuals - in other words, not a significant number.

Top-tier lawyers can command hourly rates as high as $2,400.

The most elite lawyers can earn as much as $5 million annually.

Medical lawyers are the highest-earning group of attorneys, with an average annual income of $150,881.

Nevertheless, certain lawyers who specialize in high-profile cases can earn what medical lawyers do on average in under 61 hours of work!



Number of Lawyers

Discover the rise of lawyers in the US and beyond, exploring growth rates, population ratios, and how they compare globally.

In the United States, the number of lawyers exceeds 1.3 million.

As of January 1, 2022, the ABA National Lawyer Population Survey reported a total of 1,327,010 active attorneys in the United States.

Between 2021 and 2022, the survey recorded a minor decrease in the number of active lawyers, with a decline of 0.1 percent.

The decrease was mainly due to Alabama's shift in counting lawyers, separating active from inactive ones, resulting in a drop of 2,843.

In the last ten years, the U.S. has seen over 80,000 additional lawyers, marking a 6.6% growth in the legal profession from 2012 to 2022.

The legal profession's expansion has decelerated in the 21st century. From 1900 to 2000, the lawyer population surged by 793%, increasing from 114,460 to slightly above 1 million, a remarkable contrast to recent growth rates.

This translates to an average annual growth rate of almost 8%.

In comparison, the annual growth rate of lawyers in the country has been around 1.4% since 2000, with an increase of 30% – from 1,022,462 in 2000 to 1,327,010 in 2022.

The most significant growth in the lawyer population took place during the 1970s, with a 76% surge – rising from 326,000 in 1970 to 574,000 in 1980.

For much of the 20th century, growth in the legal industry was slower, taking 50 years to almost double – from 114,000 in 1900 to 221,000 in 1950.

It took less than 30 years for that number to double again – from 221,000 in 1950 to 464,000 in 1978.

Currently, over 1.35 million attorneys are practicing in the United States.

The US, with over 1.35 million lawyers, has a higher attorney count than any other country, including India, which has a billion more people. This equates to one lawyer for every 246 Americans.

In China, there are merely 300,000 lawyers, translating to one attorney for every 4,620 residents.

Despite its nearly 1.5 billion population, China has only 300,000 lawyers, with a ratio of 1 lawyer per 4,620 residents, worse than the US. However, the Far East reports a 9.5% growth rate in recent years.

In 2009, the UK had approximately 118,000 solicitors, equating to one solicitor per 527 residents. Today, the number has swiftly risen to over 140,000.



Industry Statistics

Considering a career as a legal professional can be a wise choice if you're uncertain about your future path. However, it's important to remember that this field is highly competitive, with numerous specialized practitioners vying for clients.

In the Legal Services industry there are 434,360 employed lawyers.

This represents 36.80% of industry employment.

The hourly mean wage is $80.11.

This results in an annual mean wage of $166,640.

60,260 lawyers are employed in Local Government (excluding schools and hospitals) accounting for 1.12% of industry employment.

The hourly mean wage is $59.62, with an annual mean wage of $124,010.

In State Government (excluding schools and hospitals, 45,540 lawyers are employed, making up 2.15% of industry employment.

The hourly mean wage is $49.71, leading to an annual mean wage of $103,390.

39,650 lawyers are employed n the Federal Executive Branch comprising 1.90% of industry employment.

The hourly mean wage is $73.41, resulting in an annual mean wage of $152,700.

In the Management of Companies and Enterprises industry, 21,040 lawyers are employed.

They account for 0.78% of industry employment.

The hourly mean wage is $109.16.

This results in an annual mean wage of $227,050.



Lawyers by State

The United States holds the global lead in the number of lawyers per capita, with more attorneys per person than any other country. Boasting 1.26 million lawyers, the majority are concentrated in New York, followed by California and Florida. In the US, there is one lawyer for every 248 residents.

California and New York are the states with the highest employment level of lawyers, employing 87,780 and 86,230 lawyers, respectively.

Florida follows closely behind, with 57,080 lawyers employed.  

Texas comes in fourth with 50,070 lawyers.

The District of Columbia also boasts a high number of lawyers, with 33,610 employed.

Furthermore, the District of Columbia has the highest employment per thousand jobs and location quotient of 48.70 and 10.18, respectively.

It has also the highest hourly mean wage and annual mean wage of $108.90 and $226,510.

In terms of location quotient, the District of Columbia has the highest concentration of lawyers in the country.

California and New York have relatively lower location quotients at 1.04 and 1.98, respectively.

The District of Columbia employs 33,610 lawyers, with an employment rate of 48.70 per thousand jobs. Lawyers in this state earn an average hourly wage of $108.90, which translates to an annual salary of $226,510.

California has 87,780 lawyers employed. The hourly mean wage for lawyers in California is $96.89, with an annual mean wage of $201,530.

In Massachusetts, there are 20,380 lawyers employed, with an employment rate of 5.71 per thousand jobs. The hourly mean wage for lawyers in Massachusetts is $94.34, with an annual mean wage of $196,230.

New York employs 86,230 lawyers, with an employment rate of 9.47 per thousand jobs. Lawyers in this state earn an average hourly wage of $90.82, which translates to an annual salary of $188,900.

North Carolina has seen the fastest growth in its lawyer population over the past decade, with a remarkable 21% increase.

It is followed by Georgia with an 18% increase.

Texas also saw an 18% increase in their lawyer population over the past decade.

Utah experienced a 17% increase in its lawyer population over the past decade.

The reported significant growth in Maryland's lawyer population over the past decade is attributed to a change in how the state reports its lawyer residents, rather than due to an actual surge in growth.

Over the past decade, ten states reported a decline in their number of lawyers, with Alabama experiencing the most significant loss at -15%.

Alaska also saw a decline in its lawyer population over the past decade, with a decrease of 12%.

Ohio is third on the list of states that reported a decline in their lawyer population over the past decade, with a decrease of 8%.



Lawyer Demographics

The legal profession is one of the most important in the US, but it has historically lacked diversity. This section discusses the demographics of lawyers in the US, including their gender, age, race, and ethnicity, and how they have changed over time.

Over the course of the past ten years, there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of female lawyers.

In 2012, the representation of women in the legal profession was 33%, which has since grown to 38% in 2022.

Men still greatly outnumber women, though this is gradually changing as more women enroll in law school each year.

Between 1950 and 1970, women made up just 3% of all lawyers.

The percentage has gradually increased since then, reaching 8% in 1980.

The percentage of female lawyers has increased  over the years, reaching 20% in 1991, 27% in 2000, and 37% in 2021.

Only 4.8% of US lawyers are African-American. The US needs more black lawyers, but there's still a lack of them, especially in Ferguson, Missouri. In contrast, 81% of US lawyers are white.

The legal profession in the U.S. remains dominated by white people, but there has been some progress. People of color made up 12% of the legal profession in 2012.

In 2022, lawyers of color accounted for 19% of the legal profession, up from 12% a decade ago. The increase was primarily driven by a rise in the number of Asian American lawyers.

The National Lawyer Population Survey discovered that Asian Americans accounted for 2.5% of all lawyers last year in 2021.

The percentage of Asian American lawyers in the US more than doubled from 2.5% in 2021 to 5.5% in 2022, primarily due to California's inclusion of race and ethnicity data in its lawyer reporting.

California has a large lawyer population of 170,000, with 13% of them being Asian American.

Asian Americans are now almost equally represented in the legal profession, accounting for 5.5% of all lawyers, which is close to their 5.9% share of the US population.

The percentage of Hispanic lawyers in the US increased from 3.5% in 2012 to 5.8% in 2022, with a full percentage point increase in 2022 alone, according to the survey.

Hispanics are less represented in the legal profession compared to their share of the U.S. population, even though their percentage has risen from 3.5% in 2012 to 5.8% in 2022.

Mixed-race lawyers have seen growth over the years, with their representation increasing from zero in 2014 and 2015 to 2.7% of all lawyers in 2022.

The proportion of mixed-race lawyers grew from zero in 2014-2015 to 2.7% of all lawyers in 2022, which is almost equivalent to their share of the U.S. population at 2.8%.

The number of Black lawyers in the US has remained almost the same, with Black lawyers accounting for 4.7% of the profession in 2012 and 4.5% in 2022.

The percentage of Black lawyers has remained largely unchanged, with Black lawyers accounting for 4.5% of the profession in 2022, a figure far below the percentage of Black people in the U.S. population (13.4%).

Native Americans are underrepresented in the legal profession, being the smallest racial or ethnic group among U.S. lawyers.

The proportion of Native American lawyers remained the same, accounting for only 0.5% of all lawyers in 2022, which is similar to the rate of 0.6% a decade ago.

The Native American population in the United States is 1.3%, while only 0.5% of all lawyers are Native American.

The proportion of white lawyers has decreased over the years. While they made up 88.4% of the profession in 2012, the figure was 81.0% in 2022.

Non-Hispanic white lawyers are still overrepresented compared to the U.S. population, which is 60.1% non-Hispanic white.

Lawyers in the U.S. tend to be older than most American workers, with a median age of 46.5 years in 2021.

This is four years older than the median age of all U.S. workers.

This difference is partly due to the fact that few lawyers are younger than 25, whereas roughly 12% of all American workers are.

Moreover, nearly 13% of all lawyers are 65 or older, compared to only 7% of all U.S. workers.



Lawyer Employment Statistics

Are you curious about the state of employment in the legal industry? This section sheds light on the latest data and trends in lawyer demographics, employment, and salaries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that legal employment increased from 1.80 million in Q2 to 1.83 million in Q3.

In Q3, the average unemployment rate in the legal field dropped to 0.93% from 1.43%, suggesting that some of the unemployed found jobs in the field, or simply left the workforce.

Employment in the field of law is expected to increase by 10% between 2021 and 2031, which is a faster growth rate compared to the average for all jobs.

Employment of lawyers and legal support staff increased significantly from Q2 to Q3, with lawyers rising from 1.07 million to 1.13 million and legal support staff from 65,000 to 93,000.

The unemployment rate for lawyers decreased significantly from 1% to 0.1% between Q2 and Q3, reaching its lowest rate in more than ten years. Nonetheless, the unemployment rate for legal support staff remained at 2.6% during this time period.

Although there was a significant increase in employment for legal support roles, the unemployment rate remained at 3.6%, possibly due to a higher number of people seeking legal support jobs.

During Q2 to Q3, the paralegal field experienced a decline in employment, with 28,000 jobs lost (from 449,000 to 421,000), and a doubled unemployment rate of 3% (from 1.5%).

Title examiner employment dropped by 20%, declining from 122,000 to 98,000.

23% of recent law graduates may struggle to obtain their desired job.

Those who are fortunate enough to secure a job after graduating from law school may have to accept salaries as low as $55,000 per year.

The legal profession is expected to experience a 10% job growth rate between 2021 and 2031, surpassing the average for all occupations.

Over 48,000 lawyer job openings are projected annually over the next decade due to replacements needed from worker transfers or retirement.

Investopedia's data indicates that the District of Columbia offers the highest pay for lawyers among all the states in the US.

California comes in second with an average annual income of $168,200.

The average annual income for attorneys in New York is $165,260.

According to these statistics, attorneys in Massachusetts make an average of $157,450.