California Lawyers Association

Data Gives New Insight into Demographic Makeup of CA Attorneys

California's legal profession remains approximately two-thirds white, while the state's population is nearly 60% people of color. Latinos in particular are underrepresented among attorneys. Women are a slight majority in California's adult population, but they make up about 42% of California attorneys.

One of our key initiatives as the California Lawyers Association is to promote Diversity, Equity & Inclusion — starting within our professional staff and extending throughout the profession.

We now have a wealth of new data to assist in this endeavor, thanks to recent demographic reports released by the State Bar of California. In 2019, the State Bar ramped up its data collection efforts to give a more comprehensive picture of the makeup of attorneys licensed in California, gathering information from 125,000 active attorneys. 

The reports, showing that California lawyers are much less diverse than the state as a whole, largely mirror conclusions released by the American Bar Association at its Annual Meeting in San Francisco last year. The State Bar found that: “77 percent of attorneys are white, while only 41 percent of the state’s adult population is white. Similarly, while a slight majority of Californians over 18 are women, only 42 percent of the profession is made up of women.”  

In addition, attorneys working in the nonprofit sector were more likely to be diverse in terms of racial/ethnic and gender composition than attorneys working in the private sector, the State Bar found.

The stats also show that the attorney population is growing more diverse, due to increases in the number of Latino, Asian and multiracial attorneys entering the profession in recent years. 

In addition to collecting demographic information, the State Bar also captured information about where California attorneys work, with nearly three quarters holding private-sector jobs. 

The CLA is taking a three-pronged approach to our work on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion:

  • Developing a diverse and inclusive CLA professional team with the cultural competency to work across lines of difference among our membership, one another and members of the profession and public with whom the team interacts.
  • Improving the diversity of our volunteer leadership ranks and crafting policies in support of diverse continuing legal education programming.  
  • Interventions to encourage young people from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in the law and to support law students and recent law school graduates in succeeding in their chosen profession. 

For more information, or to get involved in these efforts, please contact Director of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives Ellen Miller at ellen.miller@calawyers.org.

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