Paid Family Leave in American Law Schools: Findings and Open Questions

52 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2006

See all articles by Laura T. Kessler

Laura T. Kessler

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law


There exists a substantial literature on the status of women in legal education, including studies on women students' experiences in law schools and gender bias on law school faculties. However, no recent study examines the family leave policies and practices in American law schools. This pilot study of thirty-three law schools represents an initial step toward filling that gap. Its findings are threefold. First, almost three-quarters of the law schools surveyed provide some form of wage replacement during a family leave that is more generous than required by federal law. Second, among the law schools surveyed, there is a positive relationship between teaching at top-tier and private law schools and receiving a paid family leave. Third, although many of the surveyed law schools provide paid family leave, most leaves were granted on a case-by-case basis. This study stands to benefit a number of constituencies within the legal academy, including individual faculty members, faculties developing leave policies, appointments committees, and job candidates. While preliminary in nature, it raises a number of open empirical and theoretical questions for future research.

Keywords: FMLA, Family and Medical Leave Act, employment discrimination, legal education, family leave, pregnancy leave, pregnancy discrimination, PDA, Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Title VII, parental leave, law schools, women, work, benefits, law and society, new institutionalism, neoinstitutionalism

JEL Classification: J16, J18, J21, J24, J32, J38, J44, J71, J78, L84

Suggested Citation

Kessler, Laura T., Paid Family Leave in American Law Schools: Findings and Open Questions. Arizona State Law Journal, Vol. 83, p. 661, 2006, U of Utah Legal Studies Paper No. 05-37, Available at SSRN:

Laura T. Kessler (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 South University St.
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-585-9697 (Phone)
801-581-6897 (Fax)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics