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December 06, 2021

ABA report examines gender gap among federal appellate lawyers

CHICAGO, Dec. 6, 2021 — A new report published by the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession, “How Unappealing: An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap among Appellate Attorneys,” reveals gender disparity among lawyers who argue before federal appellate courts.

The report analyzes the number of men and women who appeared before the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in two years a decade apart, showing that lawyers who are men outnumbered women lawyers nearly three to one. The report also examines who those women lawyers were — what kinds of cases they worked on, who they represented and where they worked.

“The type of data-driven research found in this report is crucial to understanding gender disparity in the legal profession,” ABA President Reginald Turner said. “This report should be read by legal decision-makers across the country.”

Among the findings:

  • Men lawyers were nearly three times more likely to argue before the Seventh Circuit than women lawyers.
  • Women lawyers argued more often in criminal cases and other cases that involved the government — like immigration and habeas cases—and at lower rates in civil cases.
  • Women lawyers were considerably less likely to argue the types of cases that normally involve business matters — such as antitrust/securities, contracts, insurance and consumer credit cases.

The report also includes a roadmap for law schools, law firms, clients and courts by recommending suggestions for change aimed at increasing the number of women lawyers arguing at the appellate level.

The report is authored by Judge Amy J. St. Eve of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Jamie B. Luguri, litigation associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson law firm in Los Angeles. The authors, as well as Maureen Mulligan, chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, are available for emailed questions from the media by contacting Jennifer Kildee at [email protected].

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.