How many lawyers in the U.S.?
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: executivehotline-ga
List Price: $20.00
14 Feb 2003 07:50 PST
Expires: 16 Mar 2003 07:50 PST
Question ID: 161335
I need to know how many lawyers there are in the U.S. If it is possible to ascertain (or make an educated guess), I would really like to know how many are licensed and practicing vs. licensed and not practicing. Here is what I already know... Per the BLS: Lawyers held about 681,000 jobs in 2000. About 3 out of 4 lawyers practiced privately, either in law firms or in solo practices. Most of the remaining lawyers held positions in government, the greatest number at the local level. In the Federal Government, lawyers work for many different agencies but are concentrated in the Departments of Justice, Treasury, and Defense. A small number of lawyers are employed as house counsel by public utilities, banks, insurance companies, real estate agencies, manufacturing firms, welfare and religious organizations, and other business firms and nonprofit organizations. Some salaried lawyers also have part-time independent practices; others work as lawyers part time while working full time in another occupation. (See: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos053.htm) Some states have statistics on the number of licensed lawyers in their locality. However, licensed lawyers do not necessarily practice. To find statistics on licensed lawyers, contact the American Bar Association: http://www.abanet.org/home.html. [I have not done this.] http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IQRTable?_ts=63121312256 If I'm reading it right, this Census Dept report says in 1997 there were 173,716 "legal services" establishments in the U.S., with 1.01m employees and $127 billion in receipts. (That would be about $125,000 in receipts per employee.) http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?show=Trade%20Paper:Used:1570230544:7.95 This 1996 publication says there were 720,000 lawyers practicing in the U.S. at that time, and 25,000 new graduates per year http://www.bls.gov/oes/2001/oes_23le.htm The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 490,000 lawyers in 2001 but that's employees only - does not include self-employed etc. Also does not include judges, arbitrators, and other legal types. I also found a cogent argument (from a non-governmental source) that quality of life varies inversely with the number of attorneys per thousand. I am looking for a credible estimate of the # of lawyers in the U.S. The information/data/logical assumptions you provide must be incremental to what I have stated in this post.
Re: How many lawyers in the U.S.?
Answered By: jbf777-ga on 14 Feb 2003 10:16 PST
IMPORTANT -- PLEASE READ This answer is not finished until you're satisfied with it. If you need any clarification/information, please don't hesitate to ask before rating this answer. Thank you for your understanding. ------ According to the American Bar Association, there are 1,049,751 currently practicing lawyers in the US as of the end of 2002. This is up from 1,048,903 in 2001. This information was sourced from the following American Bar Association document, which has a breakdown per state: American Bar Association Market Research Department http://www.abanet.org/marketresearch/2002nbroflawyersbystate.pdf Unfortunately, both the American Bar Association and American Bar Foundation are unaware of non-practicing lawyer statistics. This statistic is a tough one to come by. A rep from Forbes magazine who does a lot of the legal writing for the magazine agrees with this, citing that the definitions of "non-practicing" could be ambiguous and difficult to nail to a demographic. Here's a brief excerpt on the topic, for what it's worth: http://www.jasneek.com/jobseekers/dissatified_attorneys_may_havemo.asp "Forbes magazine reports that in California the number of inactive attorneys has risen by 50% from a decade ago and in Massachusetts the number of inactive attorneys grew 3% in three years. Further, Forbes says, a full 38% of attorneys say that they somewhat regret their career choice. Additionally, Harvard Law School counselors estimate that 20% to 30% of active attorneys are considering another career." You may want to visit Martindale-Hubbel http://www.martindale.com as an additional resource to pursue. Thank you, jbf777-ga GA Researcher
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Re: How many lawyers in the U.S.?
From: expertlaw-ga on 14 Feb 2003 14:51 PST
Dear executivehotline-ga, As jbf777-ga indicated, it is difficult to determine how many lawyers are actively practicing, as opposed to holding law licenses but not actually practicing law. When I was with an educational nonprofit in Michigan which serves the legal community, we estimated that a third of Michigan's licensed lawyers were not actually in active practice. Many licensed lawyers are retired or are employed in non-legal fields.
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