Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2013

Publication Citation

20 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 1071 (2013)


This article represents the first effort to measure the changing global supply and composition of lawyers over a period of several decades. In it I assemble data on lawyer populations and gender compositions from eighty-six countries and use them to calculate estimates for the rest of the world in order to paint a truly global picture of the changing supply of lawyers in general and of female lawyers in particular. Most of the data supporting my analyses come from a unique and hitherto untapped source: individual-level census data. Results reveal a clear sequence in the global process of lawyer feminization. Bar expansion beyond a critical threshold almost always precedes-and is thus a general precondition of-the attainment of a critical threshold of lawyer feminization. More specifically, almost no country's legal profession has attained a feminization level of at least 30 percent of women before its lawyer density surpassed a level of 2,000 people per lawyer. According to estimates, although almost one-half of all the world's countries (containing almost 30 percent of the world's population) have crossed both thresholds, almost 30 percent of all countries (containing 55 percent of the world's population) remain in contexts that have crossed neither. From a global perspective, therefore, the process of lawyer feminization has hardly begun. I conclude this article by discussing an important implication of this pattern. The growing global supply of lawyers has enhanced access to legal services for both men and women. However, because the production of female lawyers has been faster than the production of male lawyers, and to the extent that female lawyers are more likely than their male counterparts to represent female clients, the growing supply of lawyers has probably improved women's access to lawyers more than it has improved men's access to lawyers. Global growth in the production of lawyers is likely a good thing from the standpoint of both women seeking legal careers and women seeking legal assistance.

Women in Legal Practice: Global and Local Perspectives, Symposium, June 5-8, 2012. Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association.