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New ABA Profile report reveals pandemic’s impact on lawyers

July 29, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, but we already know it has affected the legal profession in a major way — and not just by closing courts for months and creating huge case backlogs.

That’s the conclusion of the new 2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession, released July 29 and available online here.

The Profile report includes statistics and analyses on racial, ethnic and gender diversity issues in the legal profession.

The Profile report includes statistics and analyses on racial, ethnic and gender diversity issues in the legal profession.

The third annual Profile report is a 140-page compilation of statistics and trends on lawyers, judges and law students gathered from within the ABA and from government agencies, nonprofits and courts. The report includes sections on lawyer demographics, wages, law schools and law students, student debt, judges, pro bono work, legal deserts, women in the profession, legal technology, lawyer well-being and lawyer discipline.

This year, the Profile report includes findings on how the pandemic affected many subsets of lawyers, including older lawyers, female lawyers, big-firm lawyers and solo practitioners. The findings are from the ABA Practice Forward survey of more than 4,000 ABA members in fall 2020 and a follow-up survey in March 2021 of 1,300 older lawyers by the Media Relations and Strategic Communications Division and the Senior Lawyers Division.

Among the findings:

  • One-third of lawyers age 62 and older changed their retirement plans because of the pandemic. Among those who did so, roughly half (53%) delayed retirement and half (47%) moved up retirement.
  • More than half of lawyers in firms of 250 attorneys or larger reported that they worried more about pay cuts over the past year than they did the year before. Many also worried about layoffs and furloughs.
  • Among the same big-firm lawyers, 71% reported that they were concerned that returning to the office might be unsafe, but nearly a third (29%) also said they were worried about reporting their health and safety concerns to their employer.
  • Three times as many female lawyers took on additional child care responsibilities during the pandemic as male lawyers. Perhaps as a result, more women than men reported experiencing stress about work during the pandemic (52% versus 34%) and feeling overwhelmed (60% versus 38%).

The Profile report also includes updated statistics and analyses on a number of other issues including racial, ethnic and gender diversity in the profession, legal technology, law schools, judges and attorney well-being.

You can download a PDF copy of the 2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession at, or view the report on an interactive website at

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