2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession: Key Findings
The 2021 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession shows that lawyers are concerned about returning to in-office work.
  • legal tech
  • law firm management
Published on Oct 27, 2021

The ABA released its 2021 Profile of the Legal Profession, which includes insights into how the pandemic has impacted lawyers, key trends in the legal world, and the future of the industry. We’ve pulled some highlights you’ll want to know about.

Impacts of the pandemic

The last year and a half completely changed the way people work, and attorneys have had to pivot significantly to continue helping their clients. Here are some trends the report revealed related to COVID-19:

  • 54% of lawyers say they’re working from home almost 100% of the time
  • 73% miss seeing people at the office
  • 51% feel it’s hard to separate work life and home life
  • 49% have felt disengaged from their firm or employer during the pandemic

Attorneys are faced with new challenges like creating a viable home workspace, managing home obligations, and staying engaged with their legal work. They have to face completely new kinds of stress, like worry that it’s not safe to be around clients or coworkers. The report found that 71% of attorneys working at large firms were concerned about working in an office for safety reasons.

Legal profession trends

The ABA found that the number of lawyers in the U.S. has increased 8.4% from 2011, and New York has the most lawyers of any state, with 185,076.

There has been a small increase in the number of female lawyers in the last decade. Women now make up 37% of lawyers, compared to 33% in 2011. The field is still not very diverse, with 85.4% of lawyers being white in 2021. The report references a National Association for Law Placement survey, which found that in 2020, 3.3% of lawyers identified as LGBT.

In addition, the report found that in the 20-year period from 2000 to 2020, lawyer salaries rose 63%, faster than the rate of inflation (53%).

Legal technology trends

There were also several legal tech trends of note in the ABA report. Artificial intelligence and automation are improving workplaces in lots of industries, but in law, only 7% of attorneys say their firm uses AI-based tech tools. So they may be a bit more hesitant to embrace these technologies. However, 22% of lawyers think that AI tools will become mainstream for the legal world in the next three years.

Social media use is growing. The report found that 81% of law firms have a social media presence, with LinkedIn and Facebook being common platforms. And, 64% of larger law firms with 100 or more lawyers have a blog.

This comprehensive report provides lots of interesting tidbits about where the legal profession has been, what it looks like now, and where trends are headed for the future.

One thing is certain – technology will increasingly be adopted to cut costs and streamline workflows. Learn about NextChapter and how the software helps lawyers and law firms create more efficient processes.