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Law School Climates: Job Satisfaction Among Tenured US Law Professors

January 2018

From Law & Social Inquiry 

In this article, we combine quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate why post-tenure law professors of color and women professors within the US legal academy are differentially dissatisfied with their work lives. Previous social science research has indicated lingering difficulties for professionals from traditionally marginalized groups as they advance to higher levels. Post-tenure law professors have been understudied relative to similar senior-level professionals. Mixed methods allow us to isolate institutional structure and implicit cultural bias as key mediators of this dissatisfaction, converging on issues of respect, voice, and collegiality as crucial. We use the example of the legal academy to show how empirical research can shed important light on the realities of legal professionals—here, the faculty who are training the next generation of US attorneys. Following in the new legal realist tradition, we demonstrate the power of mixed empirical methodologies for grasping social realities pertinent to law.