Lawyers Suing Law Firms: The Limits on Attorney Employment Discrimination Claims and the Prospects for Creating Happy Lawyers

44 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2011

See all articles by Nancy Levit

Nancy Levit

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law

Date Written: March 8, 2011

Abstract

It is more than a mild irony that anti-discrimination law fails lawyers in particular. This article addresses doctrinal and pragmatic limits on employment discrimination lawsuits by lawyers against their law firms. It considers the failures of the Title VII template to remedy the sorts of discrimination and dissatisfactions lawyers face in the practice of law, and concludes that many of the things that make lawyers unhappy are simply not reachable through employment discrimination lawsuits. The latter portion of the article turns to the recently emerging science of happiness literature. It suggests that the interests of lawyers and their firms may actually be united — although for different reasons — in wanting to promote lawyer job satisfaction. Law firms are beginning to understand the economics of attorney satisfaction, that happier workers are more productive, innovative and engaged, and that happiness is contagious. The article calls for structural reforms within firms, in terms of feedback, mentoring, transparency, and re-examination of the up-or-out partnership model, that will promote the economic resilience of law firms as well as increase lawyer satisfaction.

Keywords: lawyers suing law firms, employment discrimination, Title VII, attorney plaintiffs, law firm defendants, lawyer job satisfaction, happiness, happy lawyers

JEL Classification: J44, J70, J71, J78, J79, K10, K31

Suggested Citation

Levit, Nancy, Lawyers Suing Law Firms: The Limits on Attorney Employment Discrimination Claims and the Prospects for Creating Happy Lawyers (March 8, 2011). University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Vol. 73, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1781026

Nancy Levit (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

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