The New Class: A Comparative Analysis of Modern Legal Practice Settings and the Experiences of Female Attorneys at the Outset of Their Careers

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University of Delaware
Using data compiled by the National Association of Legal Career Professionals (NALP) assessing the experiences of the cohort of attorneys who passed the Bar Exam in 2000, this study utilizes logistic regression models of analysis to examine the potential difference in workplace experience between genders in different legal practice settings with regard to mentorship and internal networking opportunities with partners and supervisors. This study examines whether female attorneys are more likely to have workplace experiences that have been shown to be positively correlated to career satisfaction and advancement in non-traditional non-firm settings, and whether the increased “feminization” of the legal profession yields more gender-equal experiences in this modern cohort of attorneys across settings. Overall, results indicate potential progress in terms of mentorship for female attorneys in all practice settings, thereby suggesting progress in the increasing feminization of the legal profession. However, disadvantages for female attorneys can still be seen in informal networking such as dining with partners in private law firm settings, leading to potential indications that increasing feminization has still not alleviated gendered discrepancies in informal tools for career advancement in private law firm settings. Comparisons to public interest and non-firm settings indicate that female attorneys do not report disparate experiences from male attorneys with regard to mentorship satisfaction or informal networking opportunities. Finally, further research is warranted to examine racial discrepancies found within the public interest and non-firm sectors.