Where Attorneys Work
The 2021 extended attorney census captured information on employment, workplace environment, and issues crucial to recruitment, advancement, and retention. The remainder of this report focuses on attorneys with active status in 2021 who also completed the attorney census.2 The analyses focus on race/ethnicity and gender identity and the intersection of both. In addition, interactive visuals are provided to view results for transgender attorneys, LGBTQIA+ attorneys, attorneys with disabilities, and veterans.
2 There are minor differences in the demographic composition of attorneys who were active in 2021 and those who were active in 2022. For example, attorneys of color comprised 34 percent of 2022 active attorneys (figure 5) and 33 percent of 2021 active attorneys (figure 16).
Most California attorneys work in the private sector, with white and male attorneys most likely to do so.
Most California attorneys work in the private sector (see figure 13). The largest share of attorneys works in law firms of two or more attorneys (39 percent), while 22 percent are solo practitioners, and 15 percent work in corporate settings. Over one in 10 attorneys work in the government sector, 4 percent work in nonprofit settings, 3 percent work in other private settings, and 2 percent work in academic or other settings (labeled as “Other”).
White attorneys are more likely to work in the private sector than are attorneys of color (see figure 14). Most men work in the private sector (85 percent), while women and nonbinary attorneys are less likely to do so. Compared with all other demographic groups, transgender attorneys are the least likely to work in the private sector.
Figure 15 explores attorneys’ primary employment setting by demographic characteristics. Highlights include the following:
- Nearly one in four white attorneys (24 percent) are solo practitioners compared with 18 percent of attorneys of color.
- Attorneys of color are more likely to work in government settings than white attorneys (17 percent versus 13 percent).
- Eighteen and 6 percent of women work in the government and nonprofit sectors, respectively, while only 11 and 2 percent of men work in these sectors.
- Transgender attorneys are four times more likely to work in the nonprofit sector compared with all attorneys.
- Veterans and people with disabilities are more likely to work as solo practitioners compared with all attorneys.
- One in five transgender attorneys and veteran attorneys work in the government sector.
The public and nonprofit sectors are the most diverse.
The analysis above explored sectors where attorneys are most likely to work by demographic characteristics. In contrast, figure 16 below explores the composition of each employment sector compared to the composition of the statewide attorney population active in 2021. Highlights include:
- Women comprise 44 percent of all attorneys yet are more than half of attorneys who work in the government sector and 67 percent of attorneys who work in the nonprofit sector.
- This pattern is also the same for attorneys of color, although it is primarily driven by women of color, who comprise just 17 percent of all attorneys yet 23 and 31 percent of the government and nonprofit sectors, respectively.
- White men comprise 40 percent of all active attorneys but were slightly more than half of all solo practitioners (51 percent).
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