Gender in Practice: A Study of Lawyers' Lives

By John Hagan; Fiona Kay | Go to book overview

national trends in lawyering and other areas (see Davis, 1971; Horowitz, 1973; Hagan, 1991), including the entry of women into the profession. There is no doubt that some forces, including shifts in business cycles, are experienced in close proximity by these countries. Yet it is unclear whether Canada and the United States are becoming more alike as a result, or whether they might experience some changes in common, such as the entry of women into legal practice, while retaining a larger overall pattern of difference. There is the further question of whether it makes sense to compare these nations at all, or whether more specific comparisons are necessary focusing, for example, on specific parts of these countries, such as French and English Canada.

For these reasons, it may be important to consider patterns of growth in lawyering not only in Canada and the United States, but also for Ontario and Quebec more specifically. We begin by considering the early overall growth of the legal profession in the United States and Canada and then return to separate consideration of men and women and their experiences Ontario and Quebec.

Census data on the per capita growth of the legal profession reveal that throughout the first half of this century the ratio of lawyers to population was substantially higher in the United States than in English or French Canada. This national difference persisted in the face of dramatic growth in the number of lawyers and the general population in both countries. In the first half of this century there was an approximate doubling of lawyers and the general population in Canada as well as the United States. Because lawyers and the general population in these countries grew in tandem over this period, the ratio of lawyers to population remained until 1961 at about 0.7 per 1,000 persons in Canada, and at about 1.25 per 1,000 in the United States. With only one minor deviation in 1921, in every decade from 1911 to 1961 the number of lawyers per 1,000 population was more than one and a half times larger in the United States than in Canada.

However, while the ratio of lawyers to population remained nearly constant in both of these countries during the first half of this century, the ratio of men to women lawyers was already declining. When these ratios are calculated with census data, they initially seem to exaggerate the rate of change, because the early addition of even a few women lawyers quickly reduced the size of the ratios. Nonetheless, although law historically has been a male-dominated profession, small but steady gains occurred for women in both countries through most of this century, with the most pronounced gains in the past two decades, especially since 1971. These gains obviously did not come easily.

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Gender in Practice: A Study of Lawyers' Lives
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface and Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents *
  • 1 - A Changing Profession 3
  • 2 - Ceiling Effects in Practice 25
  • 3 - Beginning to Practice 51
  • 4 - Becoming Partners 73
  • 5 - Careers in Conflict 97
  • 6 - Born to Bill? 121
  • 7 - The Pleasures and Perils of Practice 155
  • 8 - A Contested Profession 179
  • Appendix 205
  • References 213
  • Cases Cited 228
  • Index 229
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