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I would like to know (approximately):

  1. The percentage of the current Rhode Island General Assembly that are lawyers.

  2. Historically, the percentage that were lawyers in prior RI assemblies.

Note: I have discovered that other states have passed laws that protect individuals (e.g., time limits on closing the estate of a deceased person) whereas Rhode Island has not --- much to the chagrin of beneficiaries, while simultaneously much to the favor of lawyers who are executors.

I have heard it said that the bulk of Rhode Island's state legislature are either teachers or lawyers, because these two groups of people can make themselves available at the times that the General Assembly meets.

Question: Is this an accurate statement? And, how may I ascertain the answers to the two items above?

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  • 1
    I'm not quite sure why you think teachers could make themselves available. Teaching is one job that is almost completely inflexible: you have to work term time, there's no flexible leave.
    – James K
    Jan 15 at 21:40
  • Is there a reason to call it a part time legislature? Is there some full time one that I am not aware of? I think it would be better for the question to remove the part time reference from the title.
    – Joe W
    Jan 15 at 22:08
  • 1
    @James K That is the way it was put to me; but moreover, unless things have changed, some high schools in RI (I recall at least one) dismissed at 2:05pm. Teachers there, and elsewhere, might have their free-period at the last period of the day, thereby enabling them to leave a little after 1:00 pm to go to the State House (which in RI, is not far from any point in the State.) Lastly, the Legislature convened, I recall, mid-afternoon. Hence, I surmise, were some of the reasons for the statement that was put forth to me. Thank you for your comment. Jan 15 at 22:14
  • @Joe W Years ago, state legislators in RI were paid $5 per day (and not a salary), but the job came with (great) retirement benefits in the State pension plan, which made it more lucrative.. They met, only during certain months during the year, unless the lack of a budget required them to meet longer. And, as noted above, every point in RI is commutable to Providence within an hour or so (barring traffic)---hence, there is no need for a state representative or a state senator to live in Providence if they reside elsewhere. Thus, a "part-time" legislature. Thanks for your comment. Jan 15 at 22:20
  • 1
    I wasn't confused by the line. It's vague regarding the kind of protections, but the parenthetical spells it out.
    – johncip
    Jan 16 at 19:55

2 Answers 2

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I have heard it said that the bulk of Rhode Island's state legislature are either teachers or lawyers ...

Q: Is this an accurate statement?

Based on the tables below, no. Attorneys and educators have made up less than half the members of prior legislatures -- near 30%, more or less.


Unfortunately, I could not find a list of occupations for the current members of the General Assembly. I have found that there is information in their biographies at State of Rhode Island General Assembly that may be used to create a table similar to those below.

Or use the Bio column in these lists:


This is the latest data from the National Conference of State Legislatures for occupations. See, Additional Resources, Occupation, at the bottom.

Legislators Occupations 2015 (Rhode Island)

Occupation Per Cent
Agriculture 2%
Attorney 19%
Business Owner 9%
Business Other 24%
Educator 5%
Consult/Nonprofit/Professional 6%
Legislator 9%
Retired 11%
No Data 0%
Other* 15%

*Includes Clergy, Engineering/Science/Architecture, Communications/Arts, Public Administration, Homemaker/Student, Labor Union, Medical -- each of which does not exceed 5 percent in the national total.


Legislators' Occupations for Eastern Region States- Table 2, 2007 (percentages)

Occupation Rhode Island
Attorney 26.8%
Full-Time Legislator 0.0%
Business Owner 10.7%
Agriculture 1.0%
Retired 8.9%
Business: Executive/Manager 14.3%
Educator: K-12 7.1%
Business: Non-manager 7.1%
Consultant/Professional/Nonprofit 8.9%
Real Estate 1.8%
Insurance 3.6%
Communications/Arts 1.8%
Medical 2.7%
Government Employee: Local 0.9%
Educator: College 0.0%
Homemaker 0.0%
Engineer/Scientist/Architect 0.9%
Accountant 0.9%
Government Employee: State 0.0%
Clergy 0.0%
Labor Union 0.9%
Student 0.9%
Information Not Available 0.0%
Insufficient Information 0.0%
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(Partial answer)

Going through the biographies at Ballotpedia, I can find 6 lawyers: Christopher Blazejewski, John Lombardi, Jose Batista, K. Joseph Shekarchi Robert Craven Sr. and Brian Newberry. However not every state representative has a biography on Ballotpedia. About 25 out the 75 representatives don't have bio, so we can say that there are at least 6 lawyers, and it is reasonable to estimate that there are between 6 and 12 lawyers, out of 75 state representatives. (This is 8% to 16%)

There are a lot more teachers! (though I didn't count). There are also a lot of civil servants or professional politicians (perhaps with careers in urban planning etc), a few business managers and at least one carpenter and one firefighter.

This does not seem to be a disproportionate number of lawyers. Law is a fairly common career for someone with an interest in becoming a legislator. For example, about 40% of Federal Lawmakers are lawyers.

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  • I couldn't find the proportion in previous assemblies.
    – James K
    Jan 15 at 20:55

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