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Joint Study Finds Racial and Gender Inequality Still Present in Legal Industry
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Summary: A joint study between the National Association for Law Placement and the American Bar Association has found that racial and gender inequality is still present in the legal industry.

A joint survey from the National Association of Law Placement and the American Bar Foundation has found that the legal profession is still struggling to find race and gender equality, according The National Law Journal.


The survey, “After the JD III: Third Results of a National Study of Legal Careers,” shows that most lawyers stay moderately or extremely satisfied with their choice to pursue a career in law.

The surveys have been conducted in 2003, 2007 and 2012.

“You might think after the recession that people would dial back on that answer, but it’s pretty much the same,” American Bar Foundation director Robert Nelson said.

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The survey was released late last week and based on the interviews from 2012 of 2,862 lawyers who passed the bar back in 2000.

The total pool of lawyers sent questionnaires was 5,353, which means the survey received a 53 percent response rate.

The data from all three surveys shows that gender differences in the earning power of lawyers continues to be prevalent. The income gap between women and men was five percent after two or three years practicing law, according to the previous survey. The gap expanded to 15 percent after seven years of practicing law and 20 percent after 12 years of practicing law.

The majority of the pay gap occurs in the private sector. In the public sector, women earned 96 percent to 98 percent of what men earned in the same jobs.

“It’s certainly nothing new [but] it’s profound that we have not made much progress on that front

in the legal profession,” Nelson said.

The survey also looked at ethnic and racial differences. For white lawyers, they were employed by 50 percent at private firms followed by 46 percent for Hispanics, 35 percent for blacks and 39 percent for Asians.

Some 19 percent of the survey respondents said that they have stopped practicing law. The first survey saw a response of 15 percent and the second survey saw a response of 21 percent.

“One question is whether their legal training and experience still plays a role in what they do,” Nelson said.

Is your firm dealing with gender and racial inequalities when it comes to employment? Use our poll to share your thoughts.

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Image credit: NALP


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