The study has a wealth of findings regarding lawyers’ ideological leanings by state, by practice area (energy, mergers and acquisitions, and litigation defense are relatively conservative; civil rights, employment, and personal injury are relatively liberal, as one might predict, but are outflanked on the left by entertainment law). Grads of all top law schools lean left, but those of Berkeley, Stanford, and Chicago more so than Yale, Harvard, and Columbia.
Some of Tyler Cowen’s observations from the survey:
We learn also that female attorneys are considerably more liberal than male attorneys, but the number of years of work predicts a conservative pull. Being a law firm partner also predicts views which are more conservative than average. If you consider “Big Law” attorneys, while they are overall to the Left, they are more conservative on average than the cities they live in, such as NYC or Los Angeles. Lawyers in Washington, D.C. are especially left-leaning. … Public defenders are far more left-leaning than prosecutors, though prosecutors are still more left-leaning than lawyers as a whole.
And Ira Stoll:
The authors point out that lawyers not only control the judicial branch of government, but that they are also overrepresented in Congress and among the presidents. The leftward tilt among the press and academia is a common complaint among conservatives. Conservatives sometimes complain about trial lawyers or the tort bar, too. But one doesn’t often hear talk about the overall leftward tilt of the legal profession, a trend highlighted by this paper.
Meanwhile, the practice area that exceeds all others in its leftward lean? Legal academics. (More on that in my recent book Schools for Misrule.) Related to which, Prof. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz writes of being one of three openly right-of-center members on the 120-member Georgetown Law faculty: “The consensus seems to be that three is plenty — and perhaps even one or two too many.” [“Intellectual Diversity in the Legal Academy,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy last year, via Scott Douglas Gerber, Chronicle of Higher Education]