Are Women More Ethical Lawyers? An Empirical Study
73 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2008
This is a statistical study of all publicly-reported attorney disciplinary actions decided in the United States in calendar year 2000, about 3500 cases. The study concludes that female attorneys are, in fact, disciplined at a significantly lower rate than male attorneys, relative to their respective proportions in the United States attorney population, and incur less severe sanctions than their male counterparts. For example, although male and female attorneys comprised 76.4% and 23.6% of all licensed attorneys in the United States, 88.3% of the disciplined attorneys were male and 11.7% were female.
The article examines the overall rates of discipline imposed, the frequency with which different types of sanctions (such as disbarment and suspension) were imposed, the frequency with which male and female attorneys committed different types of ethical violations (such as incompetence or failure to communicate with clients), and other potentially relevant differences. Regression analyses modeled from the available data suggest that gender is not a significant predictor of the length of term suspensions.
The article concludes with a discussion of possible factors contributing to the gender differences that were found in the study, with attention to other empirical studies of gender and moral reasoning.
Keywords: attorney disciplinary actions, gender differences
JEL Classification: K10, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation