What Percent of the US Population do Lawyers Comprise?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

According to the American Bar Association there are currently 1,116,967 lawyers practicing in the United States. That is approximately one for every 300 people, or approximately 0.36% of the total population. These statistics relate only to those currently practicing and maintaining their licenses. There are far more with inactive or retired status.

Only 25% of U.S. lawyers are female.
Only 25% of U.S. lawyers are female.

Demographic statistics give us a picture of the typical lawyer as Caucasian and male. Roughly 75% are male, and only 25% female. By far, Caucasians comprise the majority of lawyers in the US. They currently make up slightly fewer than 90% of all attorneys. These statistics are in flux however. In 1996, for example, Caucasians represented 96%, suggesting that those from minority populations are increasing.

Ninety percent of all lawyers in the U.S. are Caucasian and male.
Ninety percent of all lawyers in the U.S. are Caucasian and male.

Lawyers from minority populations are still underrepresented, however. Blacks make up 4%. Hispanics comprise 3%. Asians are the least represented at 2% of the total number.

Demographic information also informs us that about 75% work in the private sector. The greatest number of lawyers work in their own firm, about 48% with no partners. Others are most likely to work in either a small firm of two to five members, or a very large firm of over 100. About 28% either work in a small, or very large firm.

However, firms that employ over 100 lawyers represent only 1% of the type of law firms in the US. Most firms, about 78%, have between two to five attorneys. Few work for the government or as public defenders: about 8% are employed by the government, and less than 1% work as public defenders. Approximately 3% work as judges.

California and New York each have over 100,000 lawyers representing the two states with the highest numbers of employed attorneys. Illinois has the third highest number of employed attorneys, over 60,000. The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Florida and Pennsylvania currently have over 40,000 in each area.

The District of Columbia has by far the highest concentration of people in this profession, but this is to be expected since it is the capital of the US. New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston all have a high number per city.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


Interesting statistics. With all things being equal, the odds of Ovomit picking one black attorney general is 25 to 1. The odds of his picking two, a whopping 625 to 1. My guess would be that not all things are equal.


I think this number is very revealing of the state of our country in the present. We live in an overly litigious culture when people turns to the courts and the justice system to solve the smallest and pettiest of their problems. I think the high percentage of lawyers in this country points to a decline in self reliance. Everyone is trying to get something they don't really deserve and the law helps them out.


Does anyone know what the most widely practiced form of law is? I would venture a guess that it has something to do with business, but maybe they are criminal lawyers?


Wow, those numbers are pretty amazing when you think about them.

It would be really interesting to compare them to other professions. Like, how many carpenters or plumbers are there in America? How many doctors? What, for that mater, is the most common profession in America?


I would like to know how to obtain this information for myself as I need the pages for a research project, but can't find the information on the American Bar Association site. I need to know how many judges there are in the U.S. also and the percentage of minorities. Help!


Apparently, there is a practicing, lawyer for every 300 citizens in America. However, I would like to know how many law school graduates enter the population each year. Also, this web site says that the 300 citizens per lawyer in America is only for licensed, practicing lawyers.

I would like to know the ratio of lawyers to population in Washington DC, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. This web site also says that the number of law school graduates that are not practicing lawyers is much larger than the ratio of one lawyer to each 300 citizens.

Where can I find the ratio of law school graduates to the American population? Also, how many new law school graduates are graduated each year. It seems, but I might be wrong, that the number of lawyers keeps increasing each year.


What percentage of the US population is employed directly and indirectly by the Federal or State governments?

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