Robert L. Nelson, Ronit Diovitzer, Bryant G. Garth et al., The Making of Lawyers’ Careers: Inequality and Opportunity in the American Legal Profession (forthcoming Oct. 2023).
Abstract: An unprecedented account of social stratification within the US legal profession. How do race, class, gender, and law school status condition the career trajectories of lawyers? And how do professionals then navigate these parameters? The Making of Lawyers’ Careers provides an unprecedented account of the last two decades of the legal profession in the US, offering a data-backed look at the structure of the profession and the inequalities that early-career lawyers face across race, gender, and class distinctions. Starting in 2000, the authors collected over 10,000 survey responses from more than 5,000 lawyers, following these lawyers through the first twenty years of their careers. They also interviewed more than two hundred lawyers and drew insights from their individual stories, contextualizing data with theory and close attention to the features of a market-driven legal profession. Their findings show that lawyers’ careers both reflect and reproduce inequalities within society writ large. They also reveal how individuals exercise agency despite these constraints.