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Diversity, Representation, and Leadership in an Urban Bar: A First Report on a Survey of the Chicago Bar

  • John P. Heinz, Edward O. Laumann, Charles L. Cappell, Terence C. Halliday and Michael H. Schaalman...


This research originated from a request that the American Bar Foundation provide information to the Chicago Bar Association's Committee on the Development of the Law in its study of the Association's “role and purpose.” The resulting research by the Foundation is much broader than that originally contemplated in our early conversations with the Committee, and it now constitutes a major study of the Chicago legal profession and its relation to the organizations that represent it A significant part of the study, however, has been addressed to the CBA's concerns, and this article was originally prepared as a report to the Committee. It is being published because we believe that its findings and analyses will be of wider interest. The form of the article remains that of the report to the Committee, though it has been revised for publication.



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1 Richard Phelan, Alex Elson, & Edgar Vanneman, The Role and Purpose of the Chicago Bar Association–Project of a Subcommittee of the Committee on the Development of the Law at 2, 1974 (unpublished memorandum).

2 Under this Plan, persons who wish a lawyer and do not have one will be referred to a lawyer by the Association. Representation is undertaken on a fee basis–this is not a “legal services for the poor” program, though most of the clients who use the Plan are probably not well-to-do.

3 The sample was drawn according to the strictest standards of scientific sampling procedures. This insures that the estimates of population characteristics will have known levels of sampling accuracy–free of systematic distortion or bias. The population universe was defined to include all lawyers who had office addresses within the city limits of Chicago, as listed in either Sullivan's Law Directory for the State of Illinois, 1974–75 or Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, 1974. We used two directories to insure complete coverage and to avoid any biases of either directory. (These procedures would not, however, eliminate biases that both directories may share.) Our 777 completed interviews represent 82.1 percent of our original target sample. Only 8.4 percent explicitly refused to grant us an interview, while the remaining 9.5 percent were missed due to the subject's illness, time constraints, and the like. An examination of the known characteristics of those lawyers whom we failed to include, for whatever reason, reveals that we have probably slightly underenumerated nonmembers of the CBA and those engaged in solo practice, especially those who maintain only accommodation addresses in the city. This under-enumeration, however, is sufficiently small that we can, for most purposes, treat the completed sample as representative of the defined population universe.

4 The distinction between “Regular Democrats” and “Independent Democrats” is a salient one in Chicago politics. In addition to being Mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley is chairman of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee. The “Regulars” are more or less loyal to Mayor Daley's organization, frequently referred to as the “Regular Democratic Organization.” The term “Independent Democrats” refers to an even looser conglomeration that is generally more liberal and reformist. It was a coalition of these Independent Democrats, sympathetic to the presidential candidacy of Senator George McGovern, that unseated the Daley delegation to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Three recent books provide information on contemporary Chicago politics; two of them, Mike Royko, Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1971) and Len O'Connor, Clout: Mayor Daley and His City (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1975), are quite explicitly anti-Daley and the other, Milton L. Rakove, Don't Make No Waves–Don't Back No Losers: An Insider's Analysis of the Daley Machine (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975), is more sympathetic to the Regulars.

5 Peter M. Blau and Rebecca Zames Margulies in their article, A Research Replication: The Reputations of American Professional Schools, 6 Change, Winter 1974–75, at 44, reported the results of a survey of law school deans. The 104 respondents ranked six law schools in the “top five” substantially more often than any others–these six make up our “elite” category. (The lowest ranked of these, Stanford, was rated in the top five by 45 of the 104 deans; the next closest school received only 19 such ratings.) Additional categories were established on the basis of informed local reputation. Several schemes were developed; the one below seemed as plausible as any and gave good results.

The only law schools listed in these categories are those whose graduates appeared in our sample; if a school is omitted, the sample included only negligible numbers of its graduates.

6 The statement that a research finding is “statistically significant” means that the probability that the observed result could have occurred by chance is no greater than some minimum level specified in advance. The level most commonly used in social science research is a probability of .05, which means that the result observed could be expected to occur by chance 5 times in each 100 studies conducted in the same way. The other levels of significance used in this report specify even smaller probabilities of error, the .01 level (1 chance in 100) and the .001 level (1 chance in 1,000). When we say in this report that a finding is not statistically significant, we mean only that the degree of probability that the result was due to chance is higher than the .05 level. There is nothing absolute about these levels, and one might wish to choose others, depending on the costs of making an error.

Keep in mind that even though a result may reach the specified level of statistical significance, it may not be substantively interesting or important. For example, we would expect to find a statistically significant correlation between the frequency of use of CBA dining facilities and the holding of a leadership position in the CBA, but no one would be much interested in knowing that. It tells us that the Association's business tends to be conducted over lunch or dinner, but we knew that already. One of the difficult tasks in social science is to distinguish what we really know already, with a reasonable degree of certainty, from that which we do not.

It would require a more extended exposition than is appropriate here to set forth the limitations on the concept of statistical significance and the caveats on its use. For more complete explanations of statistical significance see Fred N. Kerlinger, Foundations of Behavioral Research: Educational and Psychological Inquiry 150–55 (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1964), a quite simple explanation; or Hubert M. Blalock, Jr., Social Statistics 123–28 (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1960), a somewhat more technical discussion.

7 Jerome E. Carlin, Lawyers on Their Own: A Study of Individual Practitioners in Chicago (New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers University Press, 1962).

8 The “Loop” is the main business district of Chicago. The CBA's quarters are located there, on LaSalle Street, in the midst of a large concentration of law offices and the financial district.

9 Most of our discussion is based on an examination of the impact of each of a number of independent variables considered separately. As noted earlier, however, these independent variables are themselves interrelated in important ways (see the section on “Interrelations Among Characteristics,” p. 727 supra). To evaluate the impact of these interrelations, we have submitted the data to multivariate statistical procedures, called covariance analysis and multiple classification analysis, that permit us to determine whether a given variable persists in its relation to the dependent variable once the effects of the other independent variables have been “removed” statistically. For example, we find, as indicated in table 8, that the association between CBA committee membership and political party preference is statistically significant at the .01 level. The multivariate statistical procedures permit us to determine whether political preference continues to be significantly associated with committee membership once the effects of law school, age, and income differences have been removed. In this case, it does not. The multivariate analyses further reveal, however, that age, income, and law school all remain as significant independent variables. When a multivariate model was used to test the effects of the demographic variables on leadership rates, we also found that nationality and political preference produced a statistically significant “interaction” effect. That is, while these variables acting independently are not useful in understanding leadership rates, when viewed as interacting factors they become useful–i.e., no significant increase in leadership rates accompanies being either a Republican or a Northwestern European, but a significant increase does accompany being a Republican and a Northwestern European.

We will not report the results of these additional analyses below unless they modify the conclusions drawn from consideration of the variables separately. For further information on this sort of analysis, see Frank M. Andrews, James N. Morgan, & John A. Sonquist, Multiple Classification Analysis: A Report on a Computer Program for Multiple Regression Using Categorical Predictors (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, 1967).

10 See Appendix at table A7 infra for a cross-tabulation of the law school, practice category, and firm size variables.

11 Furthermore, the law school and type of practice variables interact statistically to affect CBA participation. That is, the effect on membership produced by working in a particular type of practice is itself affected by the law school attended.

12 In the correlation between income and leadership, we have no way of knowing which way the causal arrow points-that is, it may be that higher income makes one more likely to be selected for a CBA leadership position, but it could also be that a leadership position causes higher law practice income.

Keep in mind that we requested current income figures from the respondents, while inquiring whether they had ever held a leadership position. Because of the strong correlation between age and income (see note 31 infra), part of the correlation between leadership and income may be attributable to the fact that the leadership category includes former leaders, who are likely to be older than the average age of our sample and, consequently, to have higher incomes. Income remained a statistically significant factor in all three levels of CBA participation, however, even after age effects had been taken into account through multivariate analysis.

13 See the section “Oligarchical Control?” p. 740 infra.

14 When we subjected this result to multivariate analysis, however, we found that the independent effect of political preference was no longer associated with either library or Reference Plan use to a statistically significant degree once the effects of age had been taken into account. It should also be noted that the political preference variable interacts with the type of practice category in affecting use of the dining rooms.

15 Multivariate analysis also indicates that age is not significantly associated with participation in the Reference Plan.

16 In all of the multivariate models tested, income and law school attended were consistently significant for all three levels of participation. Both of these effects, however, were not significant with respect to facility use. In facility use, practice category was consistently significant for all three types of use, and age was significant for all but the Reference Plan.

17 The “North Shore” is the Chicago term for the wealthiest suburbs, which are located to the north of the city along the shore of Lake Michigan.

18 See Carlin, supra note 7, at 175–84.

19 See table 9 supra.

20 See our “Conclusions”infra, especially pp. 766–69.

21 These figures are cited in support of the latter conclusion in Ira Katznelson & Mark Kesselman, The Politics of Power 295 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975). For other relevant material, see Donald R. Matthews, The Social Background of Political Decision-Makers (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1954) and Heinz Eulau & John D. Sprague, Lawyers in Politics (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1964).

22 Robert Michels, Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy (Eden & Cedar Paul, trans. New York: Free Press, 1962).

23 See, e.g., Seymour Martin Lipset, Martin A. Trow, & James S. Coleman, Union Democracy (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, Doubleday & Co., 1962) and Corinne Lathrop Gilb, Hidden Hierarchies: The Professions and Government 112–40, 153–56 (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), reprinted (abridged) in Sanford A. Lakoff, ed., Private Government 144–61 (Glen-view, Ill.: Scott, Foresman, & Co., 1973).

24 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (Henry Reeve, trans. New York: Oxford University Press, 1947).

25 It has been suggested to us by a member of the Committee on the Development of the Law that some of our respondents may have confused symposia conducted by the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education in the CBA's meeting rooms with those conducted by the CBA. This is, we suppose, a possibility.

26 The CBA got very bad press in the major Chicago newspapers when it found both of Mayor Daley's candidates for the Illinois Supreme Court to be qualified for the office, while finding one of their independent opponents unqualified. The Daley-slated candidates were subsequently defeated in the primary election. See, e.g., Rob Warden & Edmund J. Rooney, Bar's Court Choice Under Fire, Chicago Daily News, March 6–7, 1976, at 1, col. 3; Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 5, 1975, at 3, col. 1; and Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 6, 1975, at 16, col. 1. See also note 55 infra.

27 See note 2 supra.

28 During the period from 1969 through 1974, several CBA committees devoted major efforts to this issue. James Kissel informed us that, during his presidency of the CBA (1973–74), the police civilian review issue was by far the most time-consuming matter that he had to deal with. See Jeff Slovak, The Chicago Bar Association: The Structure of Organizational Control, April 9, 1976 (unpublished paper, American Bar Foundation CBA Project).

29 This statistical technique is known as “analysis of variance.” For an explanation of the technique and the method by which it is computed, see Blalock, supra note 6, at 242–72.

30 When we examine the simultaneous impact of age, income, law school attended, and Chicago political preference, the independent effect of political affiliation becomes statistically insignificant.

31 Thirty-two percent of our sample are under 35 years old, but that age group supplies 74 percent of the lawyers who make from $15,000 to $19,999 a year from the practice of law and only 5 percent of the lawyers who make more than $60,000. The 46 to 65 age group is 31 percent of the sample, but supplies 44 percent of those making over $60,000 and only 9 percent of those making $15,000 to $19,999. After age 65, law practice income tends to tail off a bit, but that oldest age group is still substantially overrepresented in the over $60,000 income bracket. In the cross-tabulation of the age and income variables, both chi square and Kendall's tauc are highly significant.

32 When we examine the simultaneous impacts of age, income, law school, and Chicago political preference in a multivariate model, only age and law school remain significant.

33 See, e.g., The New Public Interest Lawyers, 79 Yale L.J. 1069 (1970); Ronald Gross & Paul Osterman, eds., The New Professionals (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972); F. Raymond Marks with Kirk Leswing & Barbara A. Fortinsky, The Lawyer, the Public, and Professional Responsibility (Chicago: American Bar Foundation, 1972); Robert L. Rabin, Lawyers for Social Change: Perspectives on Public Interest Law, 28 Stan. L. Rev. 207 (1976).

34 See Appendix at table A2 infra.

35 When we used multivariate analysis to control for the effects of age and political preference, religion became insignificant on all of these objectives except “enhancing the status of the profession.” There, the independent main effect of religion remained significant at the .04 level.

36 For the categorization of the law schools, see note 5 supra.

37 The independent main effect of law school remains significant on each of the objectives when we control for the effects of type of practice and income. This may suggest that the status of law school attended is a better predictor of the generalized status security of lawyers than is their type of practice.

38 In this set of analyses, size of firm was analyzed separately from the type of practice categories-that is, size of firm and type of practice were treated as two variables. In the type of practice analyses here, all firm lawyers were grouped together. A second analysis was then done on all lawyers in private practice, distinguishing among four categories of size of firm-solos, firms with less than 10 lawyers, firms with 10 to 30 lawyers, and firms with more than 30 lawyers.

39 See note 37 supra and Appendix at table A7 infra.

40 Carlin, supra note 7.

41 See Appendix at table A6 infra. Multivariate analysis reveals that when we control for the simultaneous effects of age, income, law school attended, and political preference, the independent main effect of political affiliation is the only one that remains significant.

42 For a brief explanation of factor analysis, see Blalock, supra note 6, at 383–91. For a more detailed consideration of the subject, see Harry H. Harman, Modem Factor Analysis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960).

43 These four factors cumulatively account for 55.7 percent of the variance; factor number one alone accounts for 26 percent of the variance.

44 These objectives were rated as either “important” or “very important” by an average of 49 percent of our respondents. There was, however, considerable variation within the category; only 28.7 percent of the respondents rated “taking stands on controversial issues of public policy” as either important or very important, while 50.3 percent gave those ratings to “improving the lot of the disadvantaged” and 68. 2 percent thought that the “police procedures” objective was, at least, important. The factor that was rated third in importance is the one dealing with enhancing personal interests or position; these objectives were rated important or very important by an average of 60 percent of our respondents.

45 See table 7 supra.

46 Only 37.4 percent of our respondents in the youngest age group, those under 35, rated this goal as either important or very important.

47 See David B. Truman, The Governmental Process: Political Interests and Public Opinion 51–52, 515 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1951).

48 See note 55 infra and accompanying text.

49 David Riesman with Nathan Glazer & Reuel Denney, The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character 213–17 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950).

50 See table 8 supra and accompanying text.

51 When considering the role of a professional association in public affairs, it is important to keep in mind the limits of the influence that any association might reasonably be expected to have on major issues of professional or public concern. Bar associations play minor roles in the professional lives of most lawyers; in competing against the time demands of developing a successful practice and making a living, the associations are at a considerable disadvantage. When an association succeeds in gaining its members' attentions, it is most often as a place to have lunch with a client, to look at a book not available in one's professional library, to get a quick update on recent developments in a legal specialty, or to become known as someone to whom certain kinds of cases might be referred. The association's official positions on matters of public moment are likely to be only one (and probably not a very important) influence on the thinking of its members.

52 See Barlow F. Christensen, Lawyers for People of Moderate Means: Some Problems of Availability of Legal Services 92–97 (Chicago: American Bar Foundation, 1970).

53 Interests that benefit from the status quo, however, are well served by a stand-off among the conflicting veto groups; see p. 742 supra.

54 Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterprise (Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1962).

55 Subsequent to the submission of the original draft of this report to the CBA's Committee on the Development of the Law, a special meeting of the entire CBA membership was called to consider adopting the Rooks Committee proposal as an amendment of the bylaws of the Association. See Chicago Tribune, March 23, 1976, sec. 1, at 11, col. 6; Chicago Sun-Times April 3, 1976, at 22, col. 1; and Chicago Daily News, April 5, 1976, at 18, col. 1. The meeting was called pursuant to a petition initiated by the Younger Lawyers Section of the CBA and signed by more than 100 members. At the meeting on April 14, 1976, and by proxies distributed in advance, 56 percent of those voting favored the amendment. Because a bylaw revision requires a two-thirds majority, however, the proposal was defeated. See Chicago Daily News, April 14, 1976, at 10, col. 5; Chicago Sun-Times, April 15, 1976, at 138, col. 1; and Chicago Daily News, April 15, 1976, at 10, col. 1.

56 Another well-documented instance of this sort of delegation occurred when the U.S. Congress, having become unable to cope with all the groups lobbying for conflicting positions regarding the regulation of railroad freight rates, decided to create the Interstate Commerce Commission and to delegate those decisions to it. See Jordan Jay Hillman, Competition and Railroad Price Discrimination (Evanston, Ill.: Transportation Center at Northwestern University, 1968). Since the creation of the I.C.C. in 1887, this same strategy has, of course, proved popular with Congress on many other occasions.

57 See Peter Bachrach, The Theory of Democratic Elitism: A Critique (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1967); T. B. Bottomore, Elites and Society (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1964); William E. Connolly, ed., The Bias of Pluralism (New York: Atherton Press, 1969); Robert A. Dahl, A Preface to Democratic Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956); Robert A. Dahl, Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American City (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961); Floyd Hunter, Top Leadership, U.S.A. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1959); Edward O. Laumann, Bonds of Pluralism: The Form and Substance of Urban Social Networks (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1973); Kenneth Prewitt & Alan Stone, The Ruling Elites: Elite Theory, Power, and American Democracy (New York: Harper & Row, 1973); and E. E. Schattschneider, The Semisovereign People: A Realist's View of Democracy in America (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1960).

58 See Robert H. Salisbury, An Exchange Theory of Interest Groups, 13 Midwest Journal of Political Science 1 (1969).

59 This question, in turn, leads to a whole list of further questions. To what extent must the leaders be “accountable” to the members in order to satisfy our concept of representative government? Is the requirement of accountability satisfied if the members elect the leaders? Should we look beyond the formality of election to the rates of participation by the members in the election process, to the frequency of elections, or to the range of candidate choice presented to the members? Is it enough that the leaders are constrained by an implicit threat that the members, if sufficiently aroused, might overthrow them? How much may the organization's rules inhibit the possibility of a successful revolt and still satisfy our concept of representative government?

In the customary manner of academics, we will not attempt to resolve any of these issues–at least, not for the present–but we believe that all of them should be confronted, in some fashion, if the Committee on the Development of the Law wishes to make recommendations about the future governance of the CBA.

60 In a recent revision of his theory of social inequality, Talcott Parsons, the noted social theorist, examines in considerable detail the uneasy tension between principles of equality and inequality in modern societies. After commenting on the general trend over the past 200 years toward more egalitarian principles of participation in the political, social, and economic orders, in contrast to the ascriptive, elitist principles of the past, he argues that the burden of proof has shifted to those who would justify or legitimate unequal or restrictive participation. To modern men, he argues, such restrictions are acceptable only on narrowly conceived grounds of functional efficiency and effectiveness-authority may sometimes be delegated to those who have specialized expertise relevant to the issue at hand, but this authority should not carry over to other spheres of influence. See Talcott Parsons, Equality and Inequality in Modern Society, or Social Stratification Revisited, in Edward O. Laumann, ed., Social Stratification: Research and Theory for the 1970s 13–72 (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1970).

This study has been conducted under the sponsorship of the American Bar Foundation with funding provided by the American Bar Endowment and by the Russell Sage Foundation. A special subcommittee of the Chicago Bar Association's Committee on the Development of the Law has consulted with the researchers on the design and execution of the study. The cochairmen of that subcommittee are Alex Elson, Richard Phelan, and Edgar Vanneman. In addition, the researchers have received valuable advice from more than a score of other members of the Chicago bar. The authors of this report wish to acknowledge their considerable debts to all of these persons and institutions and to express their thanks for the assistance that has made the conduct of this study both intellectually rewarding and personally enjoyable.

In addition to the authors of this report, the research group that has worked on various portions of the larger project includes Michael Powell and Jeff Slovak, graduate students in sociology at the University of Chicago. The authors have profited from the contributions and suggestions of these colleagues as well as from those of other members of the staff of the American Bar Foundation.


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