September 30, 2020

Demographic Collection Resources for State Licensing Agencies

How Will the ABA Utilize This Information?

The ABA currently utilizes state licensing agency demographic data to inform is publication of the ABA Profile of the Legal Profession, published each year. Accurate and complete information shared with us from licensing agencies allows the ABA to provide a more holistic picture of the legal profession, ultimately allowing the ABA and all other organizations interested in legal profession demographics to better serve our law professionals and understand our population. 

Additionally, the ABA's Bar Services Division publishes information on state bar associations and other licensing agencies each year with its annual State and Local Bar Benchmarks Survey, including data on which licensing agencies request information on demographics from members. 

Why Should You Consider Collecting Demographic Information?

The ABA collects demographics of its members voluntarily.  We are currently working on ways to encourage more of our members to provide this critical information, as doing so gives us a snapshot of the diversity of our members so that we can better serve them, as well as measure the effectiveness and success of our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.  Our thought is that collaborating with your agency will give all of us an opportunity to share ideas, strategies, and best practices, with the ultimate goal being to collect comprehensive data and increase the response rate. 

Currently, the ABA collects demographics on gender, race, disability, and LGBTQ+ identification. Below are sample questions for you to consider as you design/update your demographic collection methodology. If you are interested in engaging on this most important issue, please contact Safaya Fawzi, Associate Director, ABA Diversity and Inclusion Center, at Safaya.Fawzi@americanbar.org.

Learn more about how and why the ABA collects demographics by viewing this template about the ABA's member profile collection here. 

Sample Demographics Questions for Your Data Collection

The ABA collects demographic information from its members voluntarily in order to determine the diversity of its membership and measure the effectiveness of its diversity and inclusion efforts.  We would like your agency to consider utilizing the phrasing we use for the demographic categories  below.

Add disclaimer text: To encourage individuals to fill out this information, it is important to emphasize that  providing this information is voluntary, and that the information will be kept confidential.  Your agency may already have its own privacy policy and respective language.

Sample ABA Language: Providing the requested demographic information is voluntary and, per ABA’s Privacy Policy, is deemed “sensitive personally identifiable information” that will not be included in membership directories or registration lists, or otherwise be shared publicly.

Use the following demographic categories in alphabetical order:

  • BIRTHDATE
  • DISABILITY
  • GENDER
  • PRONOUNS
  • RACE/ETHNICITY
  • SEXUAL ORIENTATION
  • TRANSGENDER

For each of the demographic categories, we recommend creating a drop-down menu with the following options.

NOTE: "Option not listed above" is an appropriate alternative to "Other" (which should not be used). If your demographic collection system does allow for a write-in option, that is preferable and feel free to utilize just the write-in option (and omit "Option not listed above" to avoid redundancy):

Disability:

  • No
  • Yes
  • Write-in option
  • Prefer not to answer

Gender:

  • Female
  • Male
  • Non-binary/gender non-conforming
  • Option not listed above
  • Write-in option
  • Prefer not to answer

Pronouns:

  • He/him/his
  • She/her/hers
  • They/them/theirs
  • Option not listed above
  • Write-in option
  • Prefer not to answer

Race/Ethnicity:

  • African American/Black
  • Asian (Central/East/South/Southeast)
  • Hispanic/Latino/a/x
  • Middle Eastern/North African
  • Native American/Indigenous
  • Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander
  • White
  • Two or more races/Multiracial
  • Option not listed above
  • Write-in option
  • Prefer not to answer

Sexual Orientation:

  • Bisexual
  • Gay
  • Heterosexual
  • Lesbian
  • Option not listed above
  • Write-in option
  • Prefer not to answer

Transgender:

  • No
  • Yes
  • Option not listed above
  • Write-in option
  • Prefer not to answer

Sample Data Collection from Other State Licensing Agencies

The State Bar has been working to generate a comprehensive demographic snapshot of the state’s attorney population. Recent efforts include a 2017 licensee survey, a modification to private attorney profile pages on the State Bar’s website to encourage attorneys to provide demographic data at log in, and a new survey launched concurrent with the 2019 billing cycle, which seeks information about an expansive set of demographic and career-advancement 6 58% 42% 49% 51% Male Female Attorneys Total CA, Ages 18 and over issues. In addition, the State Bar has folded in demographic data from the Office of Admissions to develop a more robust data set.

View Demographic Collection Reports from Other Professions' Licensing Agencies

The Matriculating Student Questionnaire (MSQ) is administered annually by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and collects information about entering medical students for the purpose of helping medical schools accredited by the U.S. Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) improve medical education. View their demographic survey here.

American Dental Association (ADA) publishes a report on state-by-state dentist demographic data, including breakdowns by age, race/ethnicity, Medicaid/CHIP participation, dental practice type affiliation, and supply per 100,000 population. 

National Center for Educational Statistics looks at demographics of public school teachers and principals.

American School Counselor Association collects demographic data on race/ethnicity and gender on their membership.