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4 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 939 (2007)


This article presents data on graduates of a law school located at a large, midwestern public university. It presents responses to survey questions relating to various personal and job characteristics, including income from the practice of law and career satisfaction. It compares the responses across various demographic groups, including type of practice, gender, race, and ethnicity. We find that lawyers in large private law firms make more money than lawyers in small private practices, who, in turn, make more than those in government or public interest positions. Career satisfaction is greatest for lawyers in corporate counsel, public interest, and government jobs, followed by larger firms, and then smaller private firms. We find that women earn substantially lower incomes than men, but most of the difference can be eliminated by accounting for time taken away from paid work for childcare, among other factors. Both blacks and Hispanics make significantly less money than majority lawyers 15 years after graduation. Regarding overall satisfaction with careers, women appear to be sensitive to the number of hours of work, probably because of child-care responsibilities. Our analysis suggests that blacks and Hispanics enjoy career satisfaction in the practice of law that is not significantly lower than that of majority lawyers.