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Lawyer Satisfaction in the Process of Structuring Legal Careers

Ronit Dinovitzer

University of Toronto; American Bar Foundation

Bryant Garth

University of California-Irvine; Southwestern Law School; American Bar Foundation

Law & Society Review, Forthcoming

This paper proposes a new approach to the study of job satisfaction in the legal profession. Drawing on a Bourdieusian understanding of the relationship between social class and dispositions, we argue that job satisfaction depends in part on social origins and the credentials related to these origins, with social hierarchies helping to define the expectations and possibilities that produce professional careers. Through this lens, job satisfaction is understood as a mechanism through which social and professional hierarchies are produced and reproduced. Relying on the first national data set on lawyer careers (including both survey data and in-depth interviews), we find that lawyers' social background, as reflected in the ranking of their law school, decreases career satisfaction and increases the odds of a job search for the most successful new lawyers. When combined with the interview data, we find that social class is an important component of a stratification system that tends to lead individuals into hierarchically arranged positions.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Keywords: lawyers, legal careers, legal profession

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Date posted: December 4, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Dinovitzer, Ronit and Garth, Bryant, Lawyer Satisfaction in the Process of Structuring Legal Careers. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=948571

Contact Information

Ronit Dinovitzer
University of Toronto ( email )
Department of Sociology
Toronto, Ontario
American Bar Foundation ( email )
750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
Bryant Garth (Contact Author)
University of California-Irvine ( email )
401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
949-824-7230 (Phone)
949-824-0495 (Fax)
Southwestern Law School ( email )
3050 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
United States
2137386710 (Phone)

American Bar Foundation ( email )
750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-988-6575 (Phone)
312-988-6579 (Fax)
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