The Allegheny County Bar Association (i.e., Greater Pittsburgh) recently published a comprehensive descriptive study of its membership. The commissioned study was conducted by Phyllis Kitzerow and Virginia Tomlinson, who are faculty members in the Political Science & Sociology Department at Westminster College.
The primary method of data collection was a membership survey. The sample size was relatively large (n = 1250) and representative of the ACBA's general membership. Thus, it can be fruitfully compared to other major studies, such as the Chicago Lawyers, Urban Lawyers (aka Chicago Lawyers II), The Pride of Indiana study, After the JD Project, and numerous studies that have flowed for the Michigan Alumni Dataset (see, e.g., this link). Further, the ACBA conducted a similar study in 1990, so there is a substantial longitudinal component.
Some of the most significant findings involve large gender disparities. Here are some highlights:
- Education. 38% of the respondents attended the two local Pittsburgh Law Schools (University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne).
- First employment. The most common first employment was at a smaller firm, though women were more likely to start at larger firms (which is consistent with earlier findings from the above-listed studies).
- Mentoring. 35% of the lawyers have been mentored, and 95% found it helpful. (See comparable data in the ABA's Visible Invisibility study).
- Full-time versus part-time. 87.5% of the members work full-time; 7.9% part-time (women are twice as likely to be part-time); 4.7% not currently employed.
- Practice setting. Women are more likely to start in private practice, but also more likely to eventually move into a non-private practice setting.
- Likely attrition. Among recent graduates, about 50% of the females and 40% of the males plan to stay at their current position for four years or less.
- Choice of employment. Respondents reported type of practice was the most important factor in choice of employment, with work/life balance and independence/flexibility coming in second. However, female attorneys were more likely to favor work/life balance while male attorney were more likely to prioritize compensation and prestige.
- Billable hours. 28% of respondents reported a billable hour requirement in their current setting. The mean billable hours was approximately 1900 hours.
- Income. 20% of male attorneys and 5% of the females earned over $250,000 per year; at least some of these results were driven by differences in age in the male and female population. Though women in the top two incomes categories report working approximately 10 more hours per week than men in the same category, which might be explained by differences in rainmaking (also noted in the report).
- Job satisfaction. Females are also twice as likely to be dissatisfied with their employment situation (Urban Lawyers and After the JD contained a similar but more nuanced findings). Female respondents reported higher incidents of job discrimination and lower pay for similar of counsel work. For men, satisfaction is positively correlated with income, but there is no similar relationship among female attorneys.
- Personal household duties. Female attorneys reported more hours devoted to household chores (10.5 hours/wk for females versus 8.55 hours/wk for males).
- Law school prestige and income. Lawyers from higher ranked schools generally earned higher incomes than graduates of lower ranked schools. Similarly, respondents in the top three income categories were twice as likely to have served on Law Review.
- Enter practice again. 70% percent of the men versus only 54.7% of the women stated that they definitely or probably would practice law again.
- Women interrupted. A majority of women chose the "sometimes" in response to the statement, "Women are interrupted or cut off while speaking when men are not." Almost 77% of men chose the response "rarely" or "never."
- Child and family care. In the sample, more men (84%) than women were married (63.5%). But among those with children, 60% of the women versus 23% of the men reported having shifted their careers for children. Among the 28% of the women and 17% of the men in the sample who have children age 5 or younger, women spent an average of 40 hours per week on childcare versus 27 hours for men. This is entirely consistent with the Pride of Indiana data. Women are also twice as likely to have shifted their careers to care for family members other than children.