CBJ - January 2012 #01. Predominantly white male State Bar changing ... slowly.


California Bar Journal


CBJ - January 2012 #01.

Predominantly white male State Bar changing ... slowly

The California LawyerJanuary 2012Predominantly white male State Bar changing ... slowlyAlthough diversity in the ranks of California lawyers has increased over the last decade, change is occurring slowly and the vast majority of attorneys in the state remain male and white. The results of a survey of randomly selected lawyers conducted last month also reveal that the state's attorney population still doesn't come close to reflecting California's demographic makeup, as reported in the 2010 census.

The percentage of female attorneys in California has continued to slowly increase, reaching 39.4 percent in the current survey, compared with just 26 percent 20 years ago, 32 percent in 2001 and 34 percent in 2006.

Diversification by ethnic group also continued to increase but at a substantially slower pace. The percentage of white attorneys has dropped to 79.3 percent, compared with 91 percent in 1991, 83 percent in 2001 and 84.4 percent five years ago.

The survey also found that the state's lawyers are graying: Nearly half (48 percent) are 55 or older, compared with just 14 percent in 1991, and half have been practicing law for 20 years or more.

Other highlights of the online survey, conducted by Hertz Research of Bodega Bay over a 10-day period at the end of November and the beginning of December, include:

* Fully two-thirds work in private practice. * Among those in private practice, 47 percent work as sole practitioners, somewhat lower than the 54 percent who practiced alone in 2006. * 58 percent said they do pro bono work, with the largest group - 39 percent - volunteering their services for between one and 25 hours. * Despite the widespread popularity of such social media as Facebook and Twitter, only 14 percent of the survey's respondents said they use such outlets in their legal practice. * More than two-thirds - 68 percent - said they found MCLE courses "helpful or informative" and nearly half - 48 percent - pay for continuing legal education courses themselves. * More than half (52 percent) said they are not certain if substance abuse is a particular problem among lawyers. * Forty-two percent work in southern California - Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura...

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