As we think about how to improve legal education, it’s always helpful to understand our students, their careers, and what they value. UW Law reference librarian Mary Whisner shared this item, that I missed when it initially came out:
Harvard Study: Women Lawyers Work More Than Men,
Bloomberg BNA Big Law Business, May 12, 2015
Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession released the results of a widespread survey of its graduates which suggests women work more hours on average than men, among other potentially myth-busting findings.
Through a survey of HLS graduates from the classes of 1975, 1985, 1995 and 2000 and other research, it provides a detailed portrait of the gender gap within the legal profession, including all the ways women have advanced or failed to advance.
. . .
The study also finds the women graduates satisfied with the substance of their work, but dissatisfied with their compensation, while the reverse is true for men.
The full study (86 pp.) is David B. Wilkins et al., The Women and Men of Harvard Law School: Preliminary Results from the HLS Career Study (2015).
Would these findings about Harvard Law grads would hold true for lawyers generally. If so, are there any implications for legal education?
Here’s one speculation: Perhaps men experience more cultural push towards financial security and success in the form of work in Big Law. They might also experience less cultural encouragement toward emotional self-awareness, introspection about purpose in life, and a service orientation. If so, the result might be that more men focus on external motivations and pursue the Big Law path, even when it’s a bad fit with their interests, skills and values. They then find themselves less satisfied with the substance of their work. (And, given gender myths about women’s lesser commitment to the workforce, the men might be able to meet expectations with fewer hours.) If so, legal education would be well advised to improve efforts to help students develop their professional identify, focusing both on developing students understanding of lawyers work in different settings, and on students’ own talents, interests and values.
Another speculation: Perhaps women tend to be less confident about the quality of their work and log more hours as a result. Legal education could help them appreciate their own talents and skill level.
Filed under: Best Practices & Curriculum, Catalysts For Change | Tagged: Best Practices and Curriculum; Catalysts for Change |