The Paradox of Minority Attorney Satisfaction
37 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2018 Last revised: 31 Jan 2019
Date Written: June 29, 2018
A substantial literature documents the challenges faced by minority attorneys in the legal profession, ranging from underrepresentation in prestigious practice settings and lower incomes to discrimination from fellow lawyers, clients, and judges. In light of the foregoing, one would expect minority attorneys to regret their decisions to attend law school and become lawyers. Yet, empirical research indicates that minority attorneys are predominately satisfied with their decision to become attorneys and that their satisfaction is on par with that of white attorneys. How to account for this seeming paradox?
Drawing on data from a large cross-section of Texas lawyers, this is the first study to address and assess empirically the paradox of minority attorney satisfaction. We provide evidence that the paradox may be rooted in the different value systems of white and non-white attorneys. In particular, minority attorneys’ satisfaction is unaffected by their academic performance in law school, earnings from legal practice, or partnership status, all of which are integral to white attorneys’ satisfaction. Moreover, racial minorities are disproportionately likely to be satisfied in nominally low status solo practitioner positions. This article concludes by advancing possible explanations for these differences.
Keywords: Legal Profession, Critical Race, Law Firms, Solo practice, Income Inequality, Hispanic, African-American
JEL Classification: Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation