According to the American Bar Association’s 2020 Profile of the Legal Profession, the percentage of lawyers who are men and women of color – Hispanic, African American, Asian, Native American and mixed race – grew slowly over the past decade. Collectively, the number of lawyers of color grew less than 3 percentage points in the past 10 years, from 11.4% of all lawyers in 2010 to 14.1% of all lawyers in 2020, according to the ABA National Lawyer Population Survey. White men and women are still overrepresented in the legal profession compared with their presence in the overall U.S. population.
Lawyers by Race & Ethnicity
In 2020, 86% of all lawyers were non-Hispanic whites, a decline from 89% a decade ago. By comparison, 60% of all U.S. residents were non-Hispanic whites in 2019. Nearly all people of color are underrepresented in the legal profession compared with their presence in the U.S. population. For example, 5% of all lawyers are African American – the same percentage as 10 years earlier – but the U.S. population is 13.4% African American. Similarly, 5% of all lawyers are Hispanic – up from 4% a decade earlier – although the U.S. population is 18.5% Hispanic. And 2% of all lawyers are Asian – up slightly from 1.6% 10 years earlier – while the U.S. population is 5.9% Asian.
Native Americans are represented in the legal profession at roughly the same proportion as their presence in the general population. Less than one-half of 1 percent of all lawyers (0.4%) are Native American – down slightly from 0.7% a decade ago – while the U.S. population is 1.3% Native American. The number of mixed-race lawyers is slowly rising. The National Lawyer Population Survey began tracking the number in 2014, when it was close to zero. In 2020, it stood at nearly 2% of the profession.
Fast Fact: Most state bars and state licensing agencies do not track race and ethnicity in the profession. In 2020, 21 states reported the race and ethnicity of lawyers – up from 19 states in 2010.