As You Suspected, Lawyers Lean Left

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If you are a person who is interested in politics and also happens to be a data nerd, have we got the study for you.  A trio of professors teamed up to assess demographic data — including where lawyers work, where they went to school, what field they practice in, and campaign contributions — to map out the political ideologies of attorneys. Why? Partly because there are so many of us in the upper level of American politics.

In the 113th Congress, 156 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives and 55 out of the 100 Senators elected were lawyers (Manning 2014). Moreover, 25 out of 43 Presidents have been lawyers (Slater 2008). Turning to state executive positions, 24 out of the current 50 state governors have law degrees.

The number crunchers that wrote this crunched the numbers five separate ways.

First, we tackle the question of the ideological leanings of the legal profession taken as a whole. Second, we consider the relationship between geography and the ideology of lawyers. Third, we examine the relationship between lawyers’ educational backgrounds and ideology. Fourth, we explore how ideology varies across firms and within firms. Fifth, we look at the ideologies of lawyers by practice area.

What did they learn? They confirmed one of the long-held, but until now apocryphal, beliefs about lawyers: we generally lean left. Moderately so, but left nonetheless. According to the study, if the profession were collectively a person, we’d be Bill Clinton.1

The study digs much, much deeper, examining whether female lawyers tend to be more liberal than male lawyers (they do), if law professors are more liberal than the profession at large (they are), and whether being a partner means you’re more conservative (yep.)

There is much much more at the link, including all the charts and graphs you could ever want.

Featured image: “double exposure of businessman hand working with virtual chart” from Shutterstock.


  1. Lawyers on the right are generally Mitt Romney. 

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