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November 1, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm CDT

Book Launch: The Making of Lawyers’ Careers

Please join the ABF for a reception and hybrid book talk celebrating the culmination of a 20-year study of the legal profession
RSVP for virtual or in-person attendance
Hybrid: Virtual/In-Person (ABF Offices, 750 N Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor Chicago, IL)

Please join the American Bar Foundation (ABF) for a reception and hybrid book talk for The Making of Lawyers’ Careers: Inequality and Opportunity in the American Legal Profession, the culmination of a 20-year study conducted by the Foundation’s After the JD research cohort.

Reception 4:00 – 4:30 p.m. CT*                        Book Talk 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. CT

*The reception is in-person only at the ABF (750 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago IL). Wine and light snacks will be provided. 

Featured Presenters:

Robert L. Nelson, American Bar Foundation and Northwestern University

Ronit Dinovitzer, American Bar Foundation and University of Toronto

Bryant Garth, American Bar Foundation and University of California-Irvine

David B. Wilkins, Harvard Law School


Additional Authors in Attendance:

Joyce S. Sterling, University of Denver College of Law

Meghan Dawe, American Bar Foundation, Harvard Law School

Ethan Michelson, Indiana University


Special Guest:

John P. Heinz, American Bar Foundation, Northwestern Law

About the Book:

How do race, class, gender, and law school status condition the career trajectories of lawyers? And how do professionals then navigate these parameters?

The Making of Lawyers’ Careers provides an unprecedented account of the last two decades of the legal profession in the US, offering a data-backed look at the structure of the profession and the inequalities that early-career lawyers face across race, gender, and class distinctions. Starting in 2000, the authors collected over 10,000 survey responses from more than 5,000 lawyers, following these lawyers through the first twenty years of their careers. They also interviewed more than two hundred lawyers and drew insights from their individual stories, contextualizing data with theory and close attention to the features of a market-driven legal profession.

Their findings show that lawyers’ careers both reflect and reproduce inequalities within society writ large. They also reveal how individuals exercise agency despite these constraints.

Save 30% on book purchases from University of Chicago Press with promo code LAWYERS2023

About the Authors

Robert L. Nelson is the MacCrate Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation and Professor of Sociology and Law at Northwestern University. The author or editor of 10 books, his works include Rights on Trial: How Anti-discrimination Law Perpetuates Workplace Inequality (2017), with Ellen Berrey and Laura Beth Nielsen; Urban Lawyers: The New Social Structure of the Bar (2005), with John P. Heinz, Rebecca L. Sandefur, and Edward O. Laumann; and Legalizing Gender Inequality (1999), with William P. Bridges (Winner of Distinguished Publication Prize of the American Sociological Association).

Ronit Dinovitzer is Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. She is also a Faculty Fellow at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago and Affiliated Faculty in Harvard’s Center on the Legal Profession. Ronit’s research on the legal profession includes the After the JD project, the first national longitudinal study of law graduates in the US, and the Law and Beyond Study, the first national study of law graduates in Canada. 

Bryant Garth is an Affiliated Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California-Irvine School of Law, and co-director, Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession, University of California-Irvine. His scholarship focuses on the legal profession, the sociology of law, globalization, and legal education. 

Joyce Sterling is Professor Emeriti of Legal Ethics and the Legal Profession at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Professor Sterling’s research has focused on the legal profession and in particular, she has emphasized studying problems faced by women in their legal careers compared to men. 

David B. Wilkins is the Lester Kissel Professor of Law, Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession, and Faculty Director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. He is also the co-founder of Harvard Law School Executive Education, a Fellow of the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, and founder and Executive Editor of The Practice.

Meghan Dawe is a Resident Research Fellow in the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School and a Research Social Scientist at the American Bar Foundation.

Ethan Michelson is Professor of Sociology and Law at Indiana University Bloomington, where he has been teaching courses on Law and Society, Law and Authoritarianism, and Contemporary Chinese Society since 2003. He has won several awards for his published research on China’s legal system.