work week for a California lawyer is 47.2 hours, up from 44.4 in 1991,
with those in private practice putting in more hours. Private
practitioners also provide more pro bono services than their
government or solo counterparts.
of gay or disabled lawyers in California are about the same as 10
percent) are married, a majority (56 percent) practice in southern
California, and more than three out of four (77 percent) are in
private practice. Almost half (46 percent) said they have consulted
the State Bar's ethics hotline when faced with a legal ethical
More than 1,500 randomly selected attorneys were
polled by Richard Hertz Consulting, an independent firm, in July and
August. The results, whose margin of error is plus or minus 2 percent,
were reported last month to the board of governors at its Santa
Hertz compared the results to a similar survey
conducted by Stanford Research Institute a decade ago and found that
for the most part, the face of the legal profession in California has
not changed dramatically in the intervening years.
In 1991, bar membership was overwhelmingly white
- 91 percent - and male - 74 percent. Ten years later, whites
and males still dominate, but the comparable numbers have declined to
83 percent and 68 percent.
In California's general population, minorities
comprise 53.7 percent. Non-white attorneys, however, make up just 17
percent of the bar.
No ethnic group managed to bridge the diversity
gap, and most didn't even come close. Asian attorneys made the most
significant leap in bar representation in the past decade, doubling to
6 percent. The new numbers push the ethnic group past the halfway
point in approaching the state's 11 percent Asian population.
But African-American and Hispanic lawyers made
gains of less than 1 percent.
The most woefully under-represented group are
those who identify as Latino or Hispanic: They represent more than a
third of the state's population, yet only 3.7 percent of them are
lawyers. African-American lawyers comprise 2.4 percent of the bar, but
6.4 percent of the state's population.
Remaining non-white lawyers are .5 percent Native
American, 1.5 percent mixed race and 2.8 percent "other."
A report last year by Jerry Braun, director of
bar admissions, suggested the only way diversity in the bar can catch
up with that of the state is by encouraging more minorities to go to
Braun's projections, although admittedly
unscientific, suggested that the State Bar will still be
disproportionately white 20 years from now. African-American attorneys
will likely make the most gains, he said, but for Hispanics, the gap
is expected to grow wider.
Ethnicity aside, diversity in terms of gay and
disabled bar members seems to have depreciated slightly. Despite
recent expansions to the Americans with Disabilities Act, fewer
attorneys reported a physical disability in 2001 than they did a
decade ago. Disabled lawyers now make up 4 percent of the bar; in
1991, they comprised 6 percent of membership. Learning disabilities
were not included in the poll.
The number of attorneys who identify as gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender shrank slightly, though the
difference was less than a percentage point. In 1991, 97 percent of
attorneys identified as straight; this year, it was 97.6 percent. But
Hertz warned against drawing any conclusions from the statistic since
it is unknown whether numbers in the 1991 study were rounded up.
Also, some respondents said they took offense to
being queried about their sexual orientation, with 8 percent refusing
To some attorneys, questions about salary were
even more offensive - 25 percent refused to state their earnings.
But about half of those who answered said they make less than $100,000
per year; the other half makes more than that.
That's not to say most attorneys are rolling in
dough: More than a third reported salaries in the $50,000 to $100,000
range. But 24 percent did say they earn in excess of $150,000 per
year, with 4 percent of those respondents pulling in more than
Men are still earning somewhat more than their
female counterparts. On the lower end of the salary spectrum, 44
percent of men - and 60 percent of women - said they make $100,000
More than three out of four attorneys said they
are in private practice, and the survey shows that when those
attorneys are women, they are much less likely to be partners at their
firms - 82 percent are male.
The average work week for California attorneys is
higher now than 10 years ago, rising from 44.4 hours per week to 47.2
in the current survey. Those in private practice are more likely to
work longer hours than their government and corporate counterparts.
They are usually associates working at large firms with more than 70
And 22 percent of attorneys say they work more
than 60 hours per week, up from 15 percent in 1991. Solo attorneys
proved more likely than others to put in 40 hours or less.
Although private attorneys work more,
statistically speaking, they also tend to perform more pro bono
service - 63 percent of attorneys who provide free legal aid are in
private practice. Overall, fewer attorneys said they do any pro bono
work, but the average number of annual pro bono hours increased.
Maybe it's those long hours, but the state's
lawyers are looking a bit grayer than they did a decade ago. At least
the men are: Of attorneys 55 and up, 80 percent are men. Nearly a
quarter of the bar - male and female - is over 55 this year, up 10
percent from 10 years ago.
Since 1991, 7 percent more lawyers have hit
middle age, with 28 percent reporting they are between 45 and 54 years
old. The number of lawyers under 35 has remained fairly constant at 24
Where youth may be winning out, however, is in
boosting bar membership among women. Only one out of five lawyers over
55 is a woman, but close to half of lawyers under 35 are female.
The bar is still largely male, at 68 percent, but
their numbers are slowly shrinking.