On June 30, Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the first Black female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Her elevation was rightly hailed as a landmark for the American justice system. But how representative is Jackson of the federal judiciary as a whole?
The new 2022 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession answers that question. The fourth annual report, released July 28, includes a deep dive into the changing demographics of the federal judiciary.
The free report is a compilation of statistics and trends about lawyers, judges and law students in nine areas: lawyer demographics, lawyer wages, law students, judges, pro bono work, women in the profession, legal technology, lawyer well-being and lawyer discipline. The statistics are drawn from authoritative sources within the ABA and from courts, government agencies and nonprofit groups.
The new chapter on judicial demographics reveals where judicial diversity is strongest and where it is weakest in the federal courts – and how new judicial appointments compare with those of previous administrations. Among the statistics:
- There are 59 Black women among the 1,409 sitting Article III federal judges across the country. That’s 4% of all federal judges. All but 11 are in the trial courts. Fifty-two were appointed by Democratic presidents.
- The federal bench is still largely white and male. Seventy percent of all sitting Article III federal judges are male; 78% are white.
- President Joe Biden appointed 68 judges as of July 1. Only three are white men. Three-quarters (76%) are women. Nearly two-thirds (65%) are lawyers of color.
- Some federal courts still largely lack diversity. For example, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has 18 judges, but only one is female. Tennessee has 23 federal trial judges, but only three are female. Sixteen states have no federal trial judges of color. There are 104 federal trial judges in those states.
Among the many facts in other chapters:
- There are 1.3 million lawyers in the United States. One-fourth are in two states (New York and California). One in five is a lawyer of color. More than a third (37%) are women.
- For the 28th consecutive year, the percentage of law firm partners who are lawyers of color rose in 2021. Five percent of law firm partners identify as LGBTQ.
- Lawyers are, on average, older than the general working population, and are more likely to work past the traditional retirement age of 65.
- For the 11th year in a row, the number of men attending law school declined; for the fifth year in a row, the number of women attending law school rose.
- Half of all law school graduates in 2021 took jobs at law firms, and that percentage is growing.
- Eighty percent of lawyers use iPhones for work. Only 19% use Androids.
- Video: The Changing Face of the Federal Judiciary: Is it Permanent or Temporary?
- ABA National Lawyer Population Survey
- Federal Judicial Center
- ABA TechReport
- ABA law school statistics
- ABA Survey on Lawyer Discipline Systems
- ABA Journal: