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The State of the Legal Profession For Illinois Lawyers

illinois lawyers ardcEach year, the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC), the administrative agency that regulates licensed Illinois lawyers, releases data that paints a picture of the legal profession in the state. Earlier this month, the ARDC released its 2016 report that showcases who makes up the profession in Illinois and their various practice settings.

According to the 2016 report, there are currently 94,610 registered lawyers in Illinois. 68 percent of those attorneys are primarily stationed in Illinois (about 64,295 lawyers) and 32 percent are practicing out-of-state (about 30,315 lawyers) listing jurisdictions other than Illinois as their primary place of residence.

To little surprise, the ARDC reported that 70 percent of lawyers registered in Illinois (about 45,210 attorneys) reside in Cook County. The rest are spread across the state.

Not all of those 94,610 men and women are actively practicing though.

The findings indicate that nearly 70,000 attorneys actively serve the Illinois public. 68 percent of those attorneys, just over 47,000 attorneys, are in the private practice. 14 percent of the attorneys in Illinois work in-house in a corporate setting, and 12 percent are employed in the government/judicial sector. The remaining Illinois lawyers are employed in not-for-profit offices (2 percent), academia (1 percent), and other settings (3 percent) according to the ARDC report.

The ARDC also reports lawyer demographics in Illinois each year. According to the 2016 report, 62 percent of the profession is male, and the remaining 38 percent is female. When the report breaks down age, the ARDC indicates that 49 percent of Illinois lawyers are 30 to 49 years old and 45 percent are 50 to 74 years old. Only 3 percent of Illinois attorneys are 21 to 29 years old or 75 years and up.

When looking strictly at the private practice setting here in Illinois, 29 percent of all Illinois lawyers are solo practitioners and 27 percent are in firms with anywhere from two to ten attorneys. This means in Illinois, 56% of attorneys in the private practice are in a small setting.

Conversely, 24% of Illinois lawyers in the private practice are employed for a law firm with more than 100 attorneys.

One of the most noteworthy findings of the ARDC for 2016 was that grievances are down. In 2016, 5,401 grievances were reported, making that the lowest number reported since 1988. It will be interesting to see how these numbers compare in the 2017 report, especially as Illinois becomes the first jurisdiction to adopt PMBR.

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