Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Anthony Paik

Second Advisor

Freda Lynn


Although lawyers as a group represent some of the wealthiest and most politically powerful professionals in the United States, within the profession there is a significant amount of inequality. In spite of the divisions that exist within the profession, our understanding of the sources of inequality among attorneys remains limited. This project seeks to address this limitation by investigating how human, cultural, and social capital, along with demographic characteristics, are associated with the development of inequality among a cohort of recent law school graduates as they proceed through the first decade of legal practice. Specifically, using a dataset entitled After the JD: A Longitudinal Study of Careers in Transition, the project examines the relationships between recently minted lawyers' various forms of capital and positive career outcomes during three time periods: the law school-to-work transition, the first two years of legal practice, and the time period where private law firm associates compete to become partners. Findings indicate that each form of capital plays important roles throughout the first decade of practice. During the law school-to-work transition, interpersonal and organizational connections, along with human capital in the form of educational credentials, are associated with gaining employment in prestigious, high paying private law firms. Similarly, during the first few years of practice, connections formed with peers, professional groups, mentors, supervisors, and employers contribute to satisfying work environments. The models show, however, that access to these professional connections, depend on the gender, race, and sexual orientation of the individual lawyers in question, and that, in general, minority groups are at a disadvantage when it comes to the formation and maintenance of these types of professional ties. Finally, the findings also demonstrate that human, social, and cultural capital remain important predictors of career success during the transition to partnership in private firms.


Careers, Inequality, Legal Profession, Social Capital


ix, 159 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 152-159).


Copyright 2014 Kenneth Sanchagrin

Included in

Sociology Commons