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person walking down arched tunnelLaunch Pad: Headline Data from the Harvard Law School Career Study

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Hauser 104, Harvard Law School

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Daniel L. Ambrosini
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Harvard Law School Program on the Legal Profession

The Harvard Law School Career Study (HLSCS) is the most unique dataset and empirical research studies on legal education conducted since After the JD. The primary objective of the study is to examine how legal education influences career patterns, mobility, and professional career choices of HLS graduates after law school. Some of the questions addressed will include: How have the demographic characteristics of HLS graduates changed over the past forty years? What role has gender and race had in the admission process and composition of the professoriate at HLS over the years, particularly since the first female tenured law professor was hired in 1972? How have course offerings changed at HLS, and do courses and concentrations students choose influence their professional careers? What predicts HLS graduates’ career trajectories, salary, and satisfaction when deciding to become a lawyer? Do grades matter for career choices; if so, how? How do HLS graduates seek and obtain work-life balance? What are the reasons that some HLS graduates choose alternative career paths to law?

Combining admissions data, alumni information, academic transcripts, and survey data, we examine the educational outcomes and professional career choices of HLS graduates from five cohorts: (i) 1950-60’s; (ii) 1972-75; (iii) 1982-85; (iv) 1992-95; and (v) 1997-2000. Overall, we received a 36% response rate to the survey (n=944). Using a cross-sectional design, we present descriptive, frequency, and correlational measures on how HLS graduates have been shaped by nearly 600 instructors (faculty, visiting professors, and lecturers) and approximately 3,000 courses at various points in time over the past forty years. Multivariate logistic regression models are used to predict satisfaction with becoming a lawyer.

Preliminary results to be discussed. Report forthcoming. 

Legal education, lawyers, and law firms are in a state of transformative change. The results of this study, along with the report, will have substantial implications for law students, legal educators, admissions officers, law firms, and policy-makers in discussing the current and future state of the legal profession.

Daniel L. Ambrosini earned his BA in psychology (behavioral neuroscience/philosophy), an LLB/BCL in common and civil law, respectively, and an MSc and PhD in psychiatry from McGill University. He is an Ontario lawyer with the Law Society of Upper Canada completing postdoctoral studies at HLS Program on the Legal Profession. Dan is collaborating on the HLSCS project with Professor David Wilkins, who is Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession, the Lester Kissel Professor of Law, and Faculty Director of the Program on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. Wilkins is also a Senior Research Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Faculty Associate of the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics and is a member of the Executive Coordinating Committee for the After the JD study.

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