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49 Journal of Legal Education 342 (1999)


In this study we undertake a simple empirical analysis to examine the distribution of pecuniary and nonpecuniary benefits across the legal profession. Using the University of Michigan alumni data set, we conduct a series of regressions to examine how the participants' self-reported income and job satisfaction vary across the legal profession according to type of practice, gender, and whether the respondent is black or Hispanic. Regression analysis allows us to undertake this analysis while correcting for the effects of several other variables, including years of practice, hours worked, law school grades, satisfaction with family life, and population of the respondent's city of residence. We conduct the analysis on two separate subsamples of respondents - one for respondents who were surveyed five years after graduation and another for respondents surveyed fifteen years after graduation. Separate analysis of these subsamples allows us to obtain snapshots of the distribution of rewards across the profession at two distinct stages in lawyer careers. With the exception of certain tests that are performed on coefficients for minority status, the University of Michigan alumni data set is large enough and rich enough to allow a very interesting and detailed analysis of how the benefits of legal practice are distributed across the legal profession.