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Journal of Empirical Legal Studies

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discrimination, gender, job satisfaction, race and ethnicity


Labor and Employment Law | Law | Law and Gender | Law and Race


Studies typically find that lawyers have high job satisfaction and that women are not less satisfied than are men. But racial differences as well as gender differences by race or ethnicity in satisfaction may be masked because most lawyers identify as racially White. To examine whether job satisfaction differs by race and whether gender and race/ethnicity have an intersectional relation to job satisfaction, I use data on nearly 13,000 law graduates drawn from six waves of the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG) conducted between 2003 and 2019. The NSCG uniquely provides a large enough sample to examine intersectionality in job satisfaction of law graduates as well as to compare satisfaction of lawyers to those employed in other occupations. Job satisfaction is strikingly low among Black women and Asian women law graduates. Asian women lawyers have satisfaction similar to White men lawyers but substantially lower satisfaction if not employed as a lawyer. Black women have substantially lower satisfaction in either employment situation. The lower satisfaction of Asian and Black women law graduates is not due to differences in personal characteristics, family status or background, job characteristics, or differences in values.



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