Although many lawyers get a bad reputation for defending some unsavory individuals, lawyer statistics can provide eye-opening insight.
In the same vein, a lawyer’s job is heavily misunderstood, and there are many different types of lawyers that serve particular issues.
There are roughly 1.3 million lawyers in the United States.
Not only are they needed on an everyday basis, but it’s also an evolving industry that can take some finesse to get the job done.
Statistics on lawyers change with every passing year, and they interact with an interesting batch of people throughout their careers.
In this article, you’ll get a breakdown of various statistics related to many facets of a lawyer’s job.
- There are 1.3 million lawyers in the U.S.
- Only 14.4% of lawyers in the U.S. are ABA certified
- The market share of the U.S. legal business sector is $160 billion
- Some attorneys can earn as much as $2,400 per hour
- The average salary for lawyers in the U.S. is $139,880
An Unfiltered Look at Being a Lawyer in 2023
Although plenty of lawyers defend good people, part of their job entails representing the opposite.
Lawyers are supposed to take an unbiased approach to every client, but this comes with quite a bit of controversy among the public.
From criminals to greedy businesses and corrupt individuals trying to game the system, lawyers will continue to support their cases.
This generates many discussions about doing your job and the morals of a good person.
It would be naive to think that all lawyers do their job with good intentions, but this isn’t to say there aren’t many good lawyers in the industry.
This article will cover a variety of statistics that go beyond just the lawyer’s themselves.
It’ll also provide insight into demographics, different law firms, and other aspects of the industry that play into making it all work.
General Lawyer Statistics
Being a lawyer means you need to have a complex understanding of how the law works.
Not only in the place that you live, but it could also require research from other nations depending on the type of law someone practices.
It can be an extremely complicated industry that’s nearly impossible to navigate for the regular citizen.
From small to large legal issues, lawyers act as a line of support between the client and the legal system.
1. The Legal Niche That Pays the Most
You could assume that, regardless of niche, all lawyers make pretty good money.
Even if this is true, some tend to make much more than others.
Data shows that medical lawyers take the cake in this category.
It’s common for medical lawyers to make upwards of $110 per hour.
Annual salaries can be as high as $150,881 and even higher for more successful lawyers. In many cases, these types of lawyers work directly with specialized hospitals.
2. How Many Attorneys Work at Large Law Firms?
Whereas some lawyers prefer to work independently, others work in law firms of considerable size.
Around 16% of all attorneys work at bigger law firms, many of which employ 100 or more legal professionals.
Statistics also show that some of the biggest law firms can include anywhere between 250 and 500 lawyers.
Although the size of law firms tends to vary quite a bit, a good portion of legal professionals work with larger firms.
There are many benefits that come with this, a few of which are a consistent workflow, support from other professionals, and room to grow in a supportive environment.
3. The Earnings of High Profile Attorneys
You might ask yourself, what makes an attorney land in the high-profile category?
There are many aspects that make up a high-profile attorney, but a track record of winning cases and satisfied clients is a good place to start.
Nevertheless, high-profile attorneys can end up making a staggering amount of money.
Some attorneys of this caliber can make around $2,400 per hour.
This comes out to roughly $5 million on a yearly basis and is clear proof of a successful career as a legal professional.
4. Number of Lawyers in the United States
As mentioned earlier, there are an estimated 1.3 million+ lawyers working in the United States.
This information comes from the 2020 ABA Profile of the Legal Professional from the American Bar Association.
Based on the number of citizens in the U.S., 1.3 million lawyers can be broken down to roughly four lawyers for every 1,000 people.
You can see why lawyers are in such high demand and seem to be constantly working from one case to the next.
5. Which States Have the Most Lawyers?
Looking at the number of lawyers per 1,000 residents, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York have the highest concentration of lawyers out of any other states in the U.S.
One could argue that lawyers in other states may have access to more clients as the access to justice gap should be larger.
Even though lawyers are in high demand, many of them are constantly looking for new clients, as competition can still be quite fierce.
Data shows that lawyers focusing on local markets could be more successful than those focusing on high-density areas.
6. How Many ABA Lawyers are Retired?
The percentage of retired or inactive lawyers registered by the American Bar Association is only 4%.
Many lawyers work into their later years in life.
Out of the number of active lawyers mentioned above, this percentage only accounts for roughly 7,760 people.
This number tends to be relatively low, mainly consisting of retired professionals.
7. What’s the Industry’s Growth Rate?
Those looking to become a legal professional have plenty of opportunities to look forward to.
Between 2019 and 2029, data shows that jobs for lawyers will expand by 4%.
This may not seem like much, but considering lawyers are always in high demand, this bodes well for new layers on the market.
Regarding projected averages for all jobs, this percentage is pretty on par with expected growth rates.
The data in this section comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Statistics on the Industry as a Whole
You’ll find plenty of opportunities for legal professionals in the United States, and pursuing a career as a lawyer is needed in many places across the world.
Significant competition in this field is found no matter where you go.
There’s also a considerable range in how much lawyers make, as much of this depends on a lawyer’s level of expertise and the legal niche they practice in.
Some lawyers can make as low as $55,000 per year, while others may bring in well over $1 million annually.
In the following sections, you’ll get a more detailed look at how much lawyers earn depending on a variety of factors.
8. Median Pay for a Lawyer in 2020
Take from data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly salary for a lawyer is roughly $126,930.
This figure is bound to vary depending on practice area and region, alongside a range of other industry factors.
For those pursuing a career as a lawyer, this figure can be used to determine where they might want to practice and in what niche.
9. How Much Do Federal Attorneys Earn?
With the many different types of lawyers in the industry, you’ll also find a broad range of salaries.
Most legal professionals work with private law firms, but some work independently, which can drastically affect how much a lawyer makes.
A few different salaries for different types of lawyers include:
- Federal Attorneys = $129,430
- Local Government Lawyers = $93,070
- State Attorneys = $81,960
It’s common for lawyers involved in managing businesses and organizations to make quite a bit more than others.
Data from 2011 shows that lawyers in this space make an estimated $161,570.
In comparison, those working in the legal services industry make only $137,170 on an annual basis.
10. Average Hourly Billable Rates
This article has covered a lot of information about annual salaries, but how much lawyers charge on an hourly basis comes with a broad spectrum.
In data pulled from January of 2021, the average hourly rate was $300.
Statistics also show that billable rates for lawyers are rising, and this is merely an average.
There are many lawyers in recent years who charge much more or less, depending on their region, expertise, niche, and client’s particular case.
When you break this down state by state in the U.S., the highest billable rate is found in Washington, which is $411 per hour.
The next state in line pertains to lawyers in New York, with an average hourly rate of $372.
Regarding the lowest rates, statistics show that West Virginia leads with an average hourly rate of $163.
A lot of this comes down to the adjusted cost of living and less populated areas.
The average hourly rate based on practice area tends to be the highest in bankruptcy and intellectual property law.
Legal professionals that work in this area are known for a high average hourly rate of $362.
Those who practice in the juvenile practice area come out with the lowest hourly rate, which is $91.
It’s interesting to point out that, out of an eight-hour workday, the average lawyer only bills for 2.5 hours.
Although finances and industry statistics provide some interesting points, mental health concerns are a significant problem for many legal professionals.
Depression Statistics in the Legal Field
When you consider the stressful nature of being a legal professional, you can only imagine the stress that comes with the job.
Some cases may be lighter than others, but there are many legal cases that can cause a lot of mental distress, even for a seasoned professional.
Below are a few statistics that highlight the prevalence of depression in working as a lawyer.
11. How Many Lawyers Suffer From Depression?
Some of the most recent data comes from 2016 when a study found that roughly 28% of active lawyers struggle with depression on a consistent basis.
This study comes from the ABA and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
It’s also important to mention that this data only includes lawyers based in the United States.
12. Lawyers are More Likely to be Depressed
When you compare the legal profession to individuals in other fields, lawyers are 3.6 times more prone to be depressed.
There’s a lot of pressure on being a legal professional.
From losing cases to having their license seized by the bar, one wrong move could be career-ending for some lawyers.
It isn’t a profession for those with a timid mind, and the mental distress can be lifelong.
13. Suicide Rates are Higher with Male Lawyers
Compared to men who don’t work as a legal professional, male lawyers are twice as likely to commit suicide.
There are many aspects that play into a lawyer’s depression.
Feelings like isolation, inadequacy, inferiority, and social alienation can compound over time.
Depression isn’t a one-sided mental health issue, as it’s generally a compound of many stressors.
Even though this is a known issue, many lawyers don’t get the support they need.
When it comes down to general stress or a case of traumatic nature, many people don’t consider what the lawyer goes through.
Whether their client ends up in jail or they spend hours researching distressing details about a case, the minds of lawyers rarely get a break.
The list of statistics on the legal profession is never-ending, but what’s provided in this article offers a comprehensive take.
Hopefully, this information delivers a level of insight that helps you understand how the law industry works in more detail.
It’s no secret that lawyers have a tough job, but it can be a lucrative and equally draining industry that takes a special type of character to succeed.
In this article, you’ve learned about a variety of lawyer statistics in 2023 that highlight the reality of working as a legal professional in our modern world.