Although the legal profession is generally perceived as one of the most despised in the world — due to its supposed affinity for corruption, bribery, and dishonesty — it is also one of the most renowned industries worldwide, as shown by these extensive lawyer statistics.
In general, these hard-working professionals tend to make a lot more enemies than friends in their line of work; especially so if they represent corrupt individuals, criminals, greedy corporations, and so on. Nevertheless, the opposite is also true when these individuals represent just causes and civic organizations that protect human (and animal) rights.
Overall, no matter what drives these well-educated professionals — be it greed or a higher sense of justice — what interests us the most at the moment is exactly how many attorneys in the US are currently working in the legal industry. What’s more, well get to the bottom of other stats and figures related to this topic as well, including the average lawyer salary within the US, facts about law firms, and data regarding the demographics of this well-renowned business sector.
To find out all you need to know about this topic, and more, be sure to check these jaw-dropping statistics down below.
Most Fascinating Lawyer Statistics & Facts – 2020
- The US legal business sector has an estimated $160 billion market share.
- The highest-paying niche in the legal sector belongs to medical lawyers.
- Only 14.4% of all US lawyers are certified members of ABA.
- Some high-profile attorneys can earn as much as $2,400 hourly ($5 million annually).
- There are more than 1.35 million lawyers in the US.
- There are only 300,000 lawyers, or 1 lawyer for every 4,620 inhabitants, in China.
- Male lawyers are twice as likely to commit suicide than their non-lawyer counterparts.
- The District of Columbia pays an annual average wage of $189,560; the highest in the US.
- Only 4.8% of US lawyers are African-American.
- The average annual wage of US lawyers is $139,880.
Lawyer Statistics and Facts
Before rolling out the stats it’s crucial we answer a key question: what do lawyers do?
Well, simply put, our society is governed by a set of highly complex laws. Now, to uphold these laws in the most efficient manner possible, one requires a thorough knowledge of how the law works — hence where lawyers come into the picture.
Layers are legal experts and arbiters who represent and advise clients on a wide range of legal matters; for instance, setting up a legal defense in court or helping business owners draft contracts and leases. In short, they prepare legal materials, administer and advise clients on some legal transactions, etc.
As a result, lawyers in the US usually require not only a bachelor’s degree but they also have to pass a state exam and acquire a separate three-year law degree.
Now, sit back and relax as we unleash some unbelievable, yet true, stats about lawyers (both in the US and around the globe).
1) The US legal business sector has an estimated $160 billion market share
The overall legal services market in the US has a market size of $437 billion, whereas the legal business sector accounts for at least $160 billion, according to recent lawyer stats.
2) The highest-paying niche in the legal sector belongs to medical lawyers
(Source: Brandon Gaille)
Lawyers in the medical field make over $110 an hour with annual averages ranging well-around $150,881. In fact, lawyers working with specialized hospitals, for example, typically earn even more.
3) 49% of law practitioners practice privately
(Source: Brandon Gaille)
Nearly half of law professionals around the world have their very own private practice, according to statistics about lawyers from BrandonGaille.com.
4) 16% of attorneys work for bigger law firms that employ 100 legal professionals or more
(Source: The Balance Careers)
According to Vault’s rankings, some high-ranking law firms have as much as 250 to 500 attorneys on their payroll; others even employ more than a thousand lawyers, while also offering excellent wages. Nevertheless, when coupled with some mid-sized law firms that have above 100 employees, these companies employ 16% of the entire US attorney workforce.
5) Only 14.4% of US lawyers are certified members of ABA
(Source: Legal Mosaic)
The number of attorneys in the US is impressive. However, out of the 1.35 million lawyers currently in the US, the American Bar Association has just 194,000 members who pay dues to the association. That’s a lowly 14.4%!
6) 4% of the ABA attorneys are either retired or inactive
(Source: Brandon Gaille)
4% of certified and duly registered members of the American Bar Association are either retired or inactive. Now, considering the total attorney count outlined in the previous stat, that’s roughly 7,760 people; in other words, not a whole lot.
7) Some high-profile attorneys can earn as much as $2,400 hourly ($5 million annually)
(Source: Money Inc.)
With an average of $150,881 annual earnings, medical lawyers are by far the highest-earning group of attorneys. Still, some lawyers who focus on high-profile cases may earn the equivalent of what medical lawyers earn, on average, in just under 61 hours of work!
How Many Lawyers in the US Are There Compared to Some Other Countries?
8) There are more than 1.35 million lawyers currently operating in the US
This is almost the same as India, which has a little over a billion more people than the US.
At the moment, there are over 1.35 million attorneys in the US; in fact, this number tops any other country in the world. Now, considering the smaller population in the US (compared to India), the current number of lawyers in the US equals to 1 lawyer for every 246 Americans.
9) There are only 300,000 lawyers (or 1 lawyer for every 4,620 inhabitants) in China
(Source: Xinhua Net)
With almost 1.5 billion people, the 300,000 lawyers in China are simply not enough; the ratios are far worse than those of the US with only 1 lawyer for every 4,620 inhabitants. What’s more, according to the lawyer statistics from the Far East, there’s a 9.5% growth rate in the country for the past few years.
10) There are 140,000 solicitors in the UK
(Source: Legal Cheek)
In 2009, the United Kingdom used to have about 118,000 solicitors or solicitor 1 for every 527 inhabitants. However, today, the number of solicitors has rapidly increased to well over 140,000.
Law Industry Statistics
Joining the ranks of legal representatives is a good option if you are still undecided about which career path to choose. Nevertheless, one must also bear in mind that competition in this profession is incredibly fierce. Mostly due to there being a whole plethora of professions highly specialized in this field struggling to reach their clientele.
However, this does NOT mean that there are no ample opportunities in this line of work, on the contrary.
Still, if you want to study to become a lawyer, you may want to know exactly how much legal practitioners earn in the US.
Now, to answer this question, we must take a few determining factors into consideration. First of all, your salary will depend mostly on your legal niche (and level of expertise) as well as the state in which you operate. In the US, the average income of these professionals is around $141,890 per year, as of 2017, according to these lawyer statistics.
However, we must also bear in mind that some US resident lawyers can have a salary of more than $1 million per year. On the other hand, those in the lower quarter of the salary scale have a salary of just $ 75,370 (per year), while those at the very bottom earn around $55,000.
11) In 2011, the annual income of lawyers was $130,490
(Source: Biz Journal)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average annual income of lawyers is $130,490, based on the average salary of $62.74 per hour.
12) The US law industry has a projected growth of 5.6% (2014–2024)
(Source: Business Insider)
According to lawyer stats from Business Insider, the law industry is the 22nd highest paying industry in the US but you need a professional or doctoral degree to get into the industry.
13) Federal attorneys earn $129,430 annually on average
Most lawyers work for private law firms and provide legal services to clients, yet some companies hire their own lawyers to reduce the need to hire law firms. The BLS states that lawyers in the legal services industry earned an average of $137,170, as of May 2011, whereas lawyers involved in the management of organizations and companies earned (on average) $161,570.
What’s more, attorneys hired by local governments earned $93,070, state attorneys made $ 81,960, and federal attorneys earned $129,430 on average.
Lawyer Bureau of Labor Statistics Figures
14) The average annual salary of lawyers in the US is $139,880
(Source: Amaze Law)
Today, lawyers earn close to $140,000 a year on average, which is $10,000 more than in 2011; this equals roughly $11,656 in monthly wages.
15) The median yearly salary for lawyers in 2018 was $120,000
However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of them not only work on a full-time basis but on an “overtime basis” as well, working more than 40 hours per week.
16) The lowest (lawyer) wage earners make only $55,000 a year
(Source: Amaze Law)
While the average salary is said to be $139,000+ annually, according to attorney stats, the lowest earners earn less than half of this figure. This number is equivalent to just $4,655 a month, according to the latest minimum wage statistics.
17) The legal profession is currently the best-paying social service job in the US
(Source: US News)
Legal services ranked 17th overall for the best paying job in the US. Furthermore, it also ranked 42nd on the list of top 100 jobs in the US. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 65,000 new employment opportunities in the field by 2026.
Lawyer Depression Statistics
18) Lawyers are 3.6 times more depressed than workers in other fields
(Source: Modern Law Practise)
The legal profession may offer competitive salaries, yet a higher salary means more responsibility; in other words, pressure. Individuals, companies, and entities place their lives, enterprises, and interests in the hands of law practitioners.
Moreover, there’s also that looming fear that the bar could seize the lawyers’ licenses if they break certain rules, hence, losing their livelihoods in the process.
19) A 2016 study found that 28% of licensed and active lawyers suffer from depression
Attorney statistics from a 2016 study by ABA and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation show that as much as 28% of attorneys employed and licensed in the US suffer from depression.
20) Male lawyers are twice as likely to commit suicide than their non-lawyer counterparts
(Source: Modern Law Practise)
According to Benjamin Sells, the most common types of psychological trauma lawyers suffer from include: feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, social alienation, depression, and isolation.
Demographics of Lawyers Facts
21) Only 4.8% of US lawyers are African-American
(Source: The Guardian)
Even though The Guardian states that the US is in need of more African American lawyers than it is of black police, there’s still a great lack of black lawyers in many counties; for example, Ferguson, Missouri. In contrast, white lawyers account for a staggering 88% of the total lawyer population in the US.
22) Lawyers in Montana receive just above $35 per hour on average
(Source: Brandon Gaille)
Many lawyers in Montana receive abysmally low pay, according to lawyer statistics. This is an industry where some lawyers earn as much as $2,400 per hour; in Montana, however, this is definitely not the case.
23) Black women make just 1.73% of the total number of legal representatives in the US
In an industry where diversity is important, black female lawyers are rather scarce. The law industry is fallow ground for black women. In fact, black women in law account for just 1.73%, as found out by a diversity survey in US law firms. Also, women of color make just 8.57% of the total number of US lawyers.
24) With 182,296 attorneys, New York has the largest number of lawyers in the US
According to the American Bar Association national lawyer survey, New York clearly has the largest number of lawyers of any state in the US. This is followed by:
- California — 170,117
- Texas — 91,244
- Florida — 78,448
- Illinois — 62,720
- D.C. — 56,135
Lawyer Employment Statistics
25) 23% of law graduates fail to find employment 9 months following their graduation
(Source: Brandon Gaille)
The legal sector is a precarious industry for new graduates and starters. While 23% of new law graduates will find it hard to get their preferred job, the lucky ones have to settle for as low as $55,000 in annual payments.
26) District of Columbia currently pays an annual average wage of $189,560, the highest in the US
Investopedia’s statistics about lawyers show that the District of Columbia pays the most of all the states in the US. California ranks second in terms of annual income, earning $168,200 a year on average. Attorneys in New York earn $165,260 on average and Massachusetts attorneys earn $157,450 on average, according to these stats.
27) Lawyer job postings will grow by an estimated 10% from 2010 to 2020
(Source: Work Chron)
Attorney statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that lawyer job postings will grow by 10% from 2010 to 2020. This annual growth rate is slightly lower than the national average for all jobs. The high salaries offered by jobs in the legal field tend to attract many capable workers, which increases job competition. New law graduates should expect fierce competition since the number of new graduates may exceed the number of new jobs.
How Many Law Firms in the US?
28) There are more than 47,500 law firms in the US.
A report by the ABA says that there are more than 47,562 legal firms with at least 2 attorneys in the US. Although this finding was made back in 2005, it still gives us a rough outlook on what the actual number could be today as no considerable growth has been noted since then (just a meager 0.3% annual growth).
29) Baker McKenzie is the firm with the largest number of attorneys (4,719).
How many attorneys in US law firms are there? While there are many firms that hold less than a hundred attorneys, reports and studies show that there are thousands of attorneys in top US law firms. If we’re to make a list of law firms with the largest headcount of attorneys, Baker McKenzie is followed by:
- DLA Piper — 3,609;
- Norton Rose Fulbright — 3,339;
- Hogan Lovells — 2,685;
- Jones Day — 2,513;
- Latham and Watkins — 2,436;
- White and Case — 2,039;
- Kirkland & Ellis — 1,997.
30) Leading US law firms earn several million and pay starting associates $190,000 annually.
According to Lawfirmstats, leading US law firms can earn more than $1 million a year. Additionally, associates at law firms can earn $190,000 annually (on average).
Meanwhile, top associates can earn as much as $330,000 annually; just remember, this is the same industry where lawyers in the lower salary scale earn $75,370 and $55,000 annually.