A SERENDIPITOUS SYMPOSIUM: TWO ISSUES CONFRONTING THE LEGAL PROFESSION: Even Lawyers Get the Blues: Gender, Depression, and Job Satisfaction in Legal Practice Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2007 Law and Society Association, University of Massachusetts 
Law and Society Review

A SERENDIPITOUS SYMPOSIUM: TWO ISSUES CONFRONTING THE LEGAL PROFESSION: Even Lawyers Get the Blues: Gender, Depression, and Job Satisfaction in Legal Practice

This research was supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the American Bar Foundation and was made possible by the cooperation and assistance of the Law Society of Upper Canada. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Law Society of Upper Canada. We thank Tara Carnochan for valuable research assistance. Direct correspondence to John Hagan, Department of Sociology, Northwestern University, 1810 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60208; e-mail: jhagan@abfn.org.

March, 2007

41 Law & Soc'y Rev. 51


John Hagan and Fiona Kay


With women entering law and other professions in numbers rivaling and exceeding those of men, it makes sense to ask how they are faring and how they are feeling about their experiences. Menkel-Meadow (1989) posed the issue that would dominate several following decades of legal practice for women, observing that "whether a feminist critique of the legal profession will emerge and transform the profession or structural obstacles will silence feminist concerns or force assimilation is a question that must be answered empirically and theoretically" (1989:289; see also Barnett 1990; Glendon 1994; Rhode 2000; Schiltz 1999). There is growing evidence that while the legal profession has structurally assimilated women, it has neglected many of their broader concerns, leaving conventional legal practice untransformed in many important respects (Schultz & Shaw 2003). Yet the findings from studies of job satisfaction among lawyers continue to confuse this picture.

On the one hand, research indicates that while women have entered law in large numbers that have helped greatly expand the profession's client base of individuals and especially corporations, women still lag behind men lawyers in rates of partnership, remuneration, and retention in firm settings (Hagan & Kay 1995; Kay & Hagan 1998). For example, Epstein et alia (1995) conclude from their mid-1990s research in New York City that at the highest levels, elite law firms remain stubbornly resistant to the advancement of women. They observe that "women . . . seem to be leaving large law firms disproportionately more than men, meaning that the profile ...
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