Why are Seemingly Satisfied Female Lawyers Running for the Exits? Resolving the Paradox Using National Data

38 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2018

See all articles by Joni Hersch

Joni Hersch

Vanderbilt University - Law School; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Erin E. Meyers

Vanderbilt University, Law School, Law and Economics, Students

Date Written: August 24, 2018

Abstract

Despite the fact that women are leaving the practice of law at alarmingly high rates, most previous research finds no evidence of gender differences in job satisfaction among lawyers. This Article uses nationally representative data from the 2015 National Survey of College Graduates to examine gender differences in lawyers’ job satisfaction, and finds that any apparent similarity of job satisfaction between genders likely arises from dissatisfied female JDs sorting out of the legal profession at higher rates than their male counterparts, leaving behind the most satisfied women. This Article also provides a detailed examination of the specific working conditions that are associated with dissatisfaction for female lawyers before this sorting occurs, and compares job satisfaction of lawyers to that of other professions. The resulting analysis finds that recently graduated female lawyers have lower average satisfaction with their salaries relative to male lawyers, but that this result is likely due to differences in employer types. The data further indicates that a male-female satisfaction gap exists only among JDs, and not among those with other professional or graduate degrees. This finding suggests that analysis comparing lawyers to other professions could help to pinpoint unique characteristics of the legal profession that create dissatisfaction among women at the outset of their careers and causes them to exit the profession.

Keywords: Job Satisfaction, Gender, Female Lawyers, Legal Profession, Discrimination

JEL Classification: J28, J16, J71, J44, K40

Suggested Citation

Hersch, Joni and Meyers, Erin E., Why are Seemingly Satisfied Female Lawyers Running for the Exits? Resolving the Paradox Using National Data (August 24, 2018). Marquette Law Review, Forthcoming; Vanderbilt Law Research Paper No. 18-42. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3248772

Joni Hersch (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7717 (Phone)
615-322-6631 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/go/phdlawecon

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States

Erin E. Meyers

Vanderbilt University, Law School, Law and Economics, Students ( email )

Nashville, TN
United States

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