US Legal Industry Statistics: Top 15 Key Facts You Need to Know

Pooja Batra
Last Updated:

17 Mar 2023

Published On:

17 Mar 2023

min read

Preview Image

Legal industry in the US is a complex field that entails a close analysis to grasp. The ongoing dynamics of the law shape our everyday life immensely. In recent years the legal market has been undergoing a host of drastic changes. It will be enlightening to explain and understand the legal industry by interpreting a set of statistics, thereby giving us insights into the legal industry from various angles. DocPro will be presenting the data with relevant analysis in this article to help you become more informed about the legal industry in the US. 


Key statistics:

1. Number of employment in legal occupations: 1.18m

2. Number of paralegals and legal assistants: 336,250

3. Average Annual Salary : 148,030 USD

4. Number of employees in legal services in California: 145,660

5. Number of US law school graduates: 35, 287


Here’s a summary of what you will find out in this Article:

Share of jobs in US requiring bar passage

Share of unemployed US law school graduates

The size of online legal services

Share of law firms using technology tools to increase efficiency

Gender distribution of employed lawyers in the US

US firms with the highest minority percentage

Top 5 challenges law firms worldwide are facing

Top 5 legal customers needs in the US and Canada

Main factors hiring an attorney in the US and Canada

Main deterrents to hiring an attorney in the US and Canada



Law Graduate and Employment Market

Number of Employees in Legal Occupations 


In 2021, the number of employees in legal occupations increased to 1.18 million. The number of paralegals and legal assistants has been on the rise over the years, which hit 336,250 in 2021.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 


Mean Annual Salary in Legal Occupation 


In the legal occupation, lawyers top the ranking of the mean annual salary with a whopping sum of 148,030 USD per annum, followed by Judges, magistrate judges and magistrates (142, 520 USD per annum) and Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers (104, 160 USD per annum).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Number of US law school graduates


In 2021, 35,287 law students graduated from law schools in the US. However, the number of law school graduates showed a downward trend from 2017 before bouncing back since 2019.

Source: American Bar Association


Share of jobs in US requiring bar passing 


In the US, the majority of jobs in the legal profession require the candidate to pass the bar examination to be shortlisted for the job consideration. Law students need to sit for and pass an extra bar examination to be qualified as a lawyer in most jurisdictions. The percentage of jobs that require the passage of bar examinations stands at 7.


Share of unemployed US law school graduates


The legal market in the US is tight where law students vie for scarce job opportunities by being involved in the fierce competition. Besides law firm positions, law students also work for many other entities , including education institutions, governments and business corporations, etc. 


Landing a lawyer job at a prominent law firm is a holy grail highly coveted and eagerly sought after by law school graduates every year. However, the reality may turn out to be much bleaker than these law students imagine.  It is no easy feat to obtain a job offer in the legal industry where supply greatly exceeds demand. The cream of the crop graduating from the prestigious law schools get their dream offers thanks to their diligent efforts.  However, there are still 5.3% of the law school graduates unemployed due to a variety of reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic, which caused great disruption across the board, has been one of the major reasons why it is getting harder and harder to seek a job in the legal market.


Source: American Bar Association


Legal Service Market 

Online legal services 


The size of online legal services have reached as large as 10.9 bn USD in 2021. Technology has shaped the ways in which our modern society members interact with one another. With the advent of the technology era, more and more industries move to online operational platforms, which enable them to transcend the bounds and restrictions of the traditional brick-and-mortar stores.  Legal industry is no exception. More and more law firms have been deploying technology to facilitate the work, such as moving their legal consulting services online. The process was accelerated in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic where travel restrictions were widely in place across the world. More and more people sought legal services via online when they were unable to engage with their lawyers face-to-face. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our lives unprecedentedly. However, it also brought about large-scale technology revolutions. The digitalisation of legal market users in a brand new era where the modern society can break the restraints of distance and time. We are entitled to more convenience and privileges brought about by such transformations.


Share of law firms using technology tools instead of human resources to increase efficiency


Technology can boost efficiency immensely. Many law firms have taken advantage of cutting-edge technology to streamline their services, thereby greatly decreasing the amount of time it takes for the work to be done. In the 21st century, it goes without saying that technology can bring about tremendous changes to how lawyers engage with their work. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many conferences have been moved online due to travel restrictions. The COVID-19 pandemic also has seen more and more firms digitizing their marketing strategies, making it more and more crucial for the firms to be tech-savvy.

Source: IBIS world 



Gender distribution of employed lawyers in the U.S


Gender equality in the workplace is a long-standing social topic that has drawn widespread debate over decades. The gender ratio is an indicator of how a law firm fares in terms of gender equality. The gender distribution of employed lawyers in the U.S consist of 58.2% men and 41.7% women.  


U.S law firms with the highest percentage of minority in 2021


Racial diversity is another major indicator by which people gauge the degree of inclusiveness of a firm. In 2021, Berry Appleman topped the list of the highest percentage of minorities with 49.7% of its lawyers being minor ethnicities.

Source: The American Lawyer


Opportunities and Challenges for Law firms and their Customers

Top 6 challenges law firms worldwide are facing:


It is no mean feat to keep a law firm afloat with the commitments to delivering quality service. A variety of challenges have been come across by law firms in an ever-changing legal industry. The top 5 challenges faced by law firms worldwide are: Operational efficiency (39%) , Technology adoption or implementation (32%), Cybersecurity (30%) , Retaining/Growing existing business from clients (29%), Profitability (28.5%), Pricing Pressure (28%).

Source: Aderant 


Top 7 Legal needs that consumers had in the US and Canada in 2021


Each and every of us have legal needs to be met as we are engaging with different matters. We have our own rights and benefits. We also have our fair share of responsibilities and obligations to take. Quality service is a must for a person in the modern society where almost everything is regulated under the rule of law. A moderner may seek legal advice whenever he is uncertain about his rights and obligations. The top 7 legal service types that are pursued by customers include: family planning/child custody (14%) , personal injury (12%) , divorce or separation (11%) , criminal defense (10%) , real estate (10%), Estate Planning (9%), Landlord-tenant (9%).

Source: Martindale-Avvo 


Main factors and deterrents to hiring an attorney according to legal customers in US and Canada


Modern society is underpinned by rule of law. Quality legal services are a must for moderners. However, more often than not, it is not easy to hire a lawyer to serve our needs as we are concerned with a host of factors when employing a lawyer. You may also go to great lengths find a suitable lawyer with numerous factors in consideration. The top 5 factors include Responsiveness of the attorney (48%) , Costs (42%) , Free Consultation (37%) , Online reviews and years of experiences (32%), Online reviews / client testimonials (32%).


In the meantime, hiring a lawyer may come off as intimidating to many since there are quite a number of factors that may deter a customer from getting quality service as they hope for. Our research gives us a glimpse into the main factors that deter the customers from hiring an ideal lawyer, the top 5 of which include Slow to respond (54%) , Too expensive (47%) , negative reviews online (43%), no connections between you and the attorney (30%) and appearance of being too busy/stretched (26%).

Source: Martindale-Avvo



The legal industry in the United States is a vast and complex field that shapes our daily lives in many ways. The statistics presented in the article cover several areas of the legal industry, including the number of employees, salaries, law school graduates, online legal services, and the use of technology tools by law firms. With the advent of AI, the legal industry continues to undergo significant changes in recent years, and understanding these changes and how they impact the industry is vital.


The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the legal industry, leading to increased digitization of services and changes in work environments. The legal market in the US remains tight, and law school graduates face fierce competition for job opportunities. The legal industry's digitalisation is ushering in a new era of convenience and efficiency in legal services.


Pooja Batra

Pooja has more than 8 years of in-house legal experience in large MNC’s. She has advised on a wide range of corporate and commercial matters including drafting, reviewing and negotiating a variety of commercial contracts and other agreements across various business lines. If you would like to become a contributor to DocPro, please click the link below:



Us Legal Industry Statistics


Legal Occupations


Law School Graduates


Employment Market


Bar Passing


Unemployed Law School Graduates


Legal Service Market


Online Legal Services


Law Firms Using Technology Tools


Gender Distribution Of Employed Lawyers In The Us


Join Now

You are Master and Commander of
Thousands of Documents

Join one of the largest online documents database created by legal
professionals, with easy to use tools for customization and
jurisdiction selection engine