Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

ABA Profile of Profession 2021

COVID caused one in three senior attorneys to rethink their retirement plans, with just over half deciding they needed to work longer than previously planned.

The reason: they made less income during the pandemic, forcing them to re-calibrate their short- and long-term financial plans.

Those are two findings from the just-released  2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession.

“Of attorneys [age 62 and older], 53 percent said the public health crisis caused them to delay their retirement and the other 47 percent said the pandemic spurred them to hasten their retirement,” according to the ABA Journal. “The ABA report says loss of income may have factored into older lawyers’ plans, with 36 percent saying they made less money during the pandemic and only 18 percent reporting making more money.”

The 2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession surveyed more than 4,000 ABA members in Fall 2020, plus 1,400 senior lawyers in March 2021.

Read the 2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession report here. Below are 10 takeaways.

Read an ABA Journal article by Lyle Moran on the report here.

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2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession

Here are 10 takeaways from the report. All quotes are from the ABA Journal article’s author, Lyle Moran.

  1. Fifty percent of lawyers younger than 62 felt their workday “never seems to end” during the pandemic. Only 27 percent of senior lawyers felt that way.
  2. Senior attorneys felt less pandemic-induced work stress (30 percent) than younger lawyers (49 percent).
  3. Seventy-three percent of lawyers had to learn or adapt to new technology in the pandemic, but 80 percent said they were “somewhat comfortable” or “extremely comfortable” doing so.
  4. Sixty-three (63) percent of women lawyers and 62 percent of lawyers of color said it was hard to balance home and work life in the pandemic, compared with 51 percent of attorneys overall.
  5. There were around 1.3 million active lawyers nationwide as of January 1, 2021, a decline of one-tenth of one percent from the prior year – but that was attributed to an anomaly in Vermont’s numbers.
  6. One in four lawyers are in New York (185,076) and California (167,709)
  7. One of seven lawyers is a person of color.
  8. Thirty-seven (37) percent of all lawyers are women.
  9. There are approximately 114,000 law school students nationwide. That’s the highest number since 2014. A majority (54 percent) are women. At 25 law schools, women comprise 60 percent or more of the student body.
  10. The number of male law school student declined for the 10th straight year. The number of female students rose for the fourth straight year.

Source: ABA Journal


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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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