This report is based on several data sources, including an annual survey of California attorneys that captures demographic characteristics, along with critical issues about entry, leadership, advancement, and retention in the legal profession. The narrative below describes all data sources, definitions for demographic and employment data elements, and changes the State Bar has made to its attorney census, the primary data source for this report.
The attorney census is a voluntary survey administered during the annual licensing fee payment period through the State Bar's online portal. The survey was first issued in 2019, and it contained questions on (1) demographic characteristics, (2) primary employment sector, (3) workplace leadership, and (4) workplace climate. The State Bar has since developed two versions of the survey. A short version, containing demographic questions and formatted so that prior answers are stored and made for updating, is administered annually. A more extended version of the survey that includes employment and workplace-related questions is administered every two to three years.
2021 Attorney Census is the extended version of the survey, which contains questions about employment sector, leadership, recruitment, advancement, and retention issues. Analyses that explore employment-related matters in this report are limited to the approximately 128,000 attorneys who met the following conditions: (1) their status was active in February 2021, (2) they were employed, and (3) they answered the survey question on employment sector. This group of attorneys represents 68 percent of attorneys with active status in 2021. Response rates to demographic questions are in table 1 and varied by question (29 to 70 percent).
2022 Attorney Census is the administration of the shortened version of the attorney census to collect data on demographic characteristics. Analyses that compare the California attorney population to the state’s adult population are limited to attorneys whose licenses were active in February 2022. Each demographic survey question was analyzed based on all attorneys who responded to the question. Response rates varied by question; depending on the question, this group of attorneys represents 65 to 90 percent of approximately 194,000 active attorneys in 2022 (see table 1).
Most analyses can be explored more deeply using Power BI visuals. See "Dig Deeper" call out boxes throughout the report. Interpret results throughout the report and those generated in Power BI with caution given that sample sizes are substantially different from one another.
2020 Impact Survey
Analyses on workplace satisfaction are supplemented with findings from a one-time survey the State Bar administered to all California licensed attorneys in April 2021. The survey sought to learn how the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased national attention on racial justice impacted attorneys’ work experience. Survey topics included: (1) the challenges faced by California licensed attorneys in their work life, (2) the employee resources that aided them, (3) the priority attorneys placed on diversity and inclusion, and (4) perceptions about employers’ efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The findings represent 18,000 attorneys who met the following conditions: (1) they had an active license at the time of the survey, and (2) their race/ethnicity was available via this survey or any other data sources by which the State Bar collects demographic data from attorneys. This group of attorneys comprised 9 percent of all 2021 active attorneys and is a representative sample of active attorneys licensed in California along racial/ethnic and gender demographics.
The State Bar is committed to tracking and analyzing attorney diversity for the following demographic characteristics:
The race/ethnicity question provides eight answer categories. Attorneys who selected more than one racial/ethnic group other than the “Other race, ethnicity, or origin” category were categorized as “Multiracial.” The small share of attorneys who selected only “Other race, ethnicity, or origin” were excluded from the analysis. Non-white racial/ethnic categories were combined into a single category, “Attorneys of Color,” to facilitate analyses in the body of the report.
Gender and Transgender Identity
The attorney census contains two questions related to gender identity:
(1) “Which of the following best fits with the gender you identify as?” This question had five answer categories. Analyses of “gender identity” compare three categories: men, women, and nonbinary. Attorneys who selected more than one category were categorized as “nonbinary.”
(2) “Which of the following best applies to you?” offered the following answer categories: “cisgender,” “transgender,” “intersex,” and “not listed.” Over 300 attorneys identified as transgender in 2022.
The sexual orientation/identity survey question had seven answer categories. “LGBTQIA+” includes attorneys who selected lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and/or “not listed.” Data regarding gender identity (including transgender and nonbinary identity) are reported separately. For this report, LGBTQIA+ is an umbrella term for attorneys’ sexual orientation/identity.
Attorneys who selected “yes” in response to the prompt, “I identify as a person with a disability” were categorized as an attorney with a disability.
Attorneys who selected “yes” in response to the question, “Have you ever served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, Reserves, or National Guard” were categorized as veterans. The State Bar added this question to the attorney census in 2020.
The Intersection of Race/Ethnicity and Gender
Analyses that explore the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender identity are the focus of this report. The six categories used throughout this report are:
- White Men
- White Women
- White Nonbinary Attorneys
- Men of Color
- Women of Color
- Nonbinary Attorneys of Color
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