Sex Discrimination in the Legal Profession: A Study of Promotion

Stephen J. Spurr

Although the proportion of lawyers who are women has grown rapidly in recent years, this study presents evidence of discrimination against women in promotion to partnership in major U.S. law firms in 1969-73 and 1980. Using regression analysis and maximum likelihood estimates of a probabilistic model of production of legal services, the author finds that women were about one-half as likely as men to achieve partnership in those years, even though they did not significantly differ from men in academic distinction (selection for the law review or the Order of the Coif), the rank of their law schools, or productivity.

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