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The Masculine Mystique: Living Large from Law School to Later Life

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2014

John Hagan
Department of Sociology, Northwestern University, 1810 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201USA, E-mail:
Fiona M. Kay
Department of Sociology, Queen's University, 99 University Avenue, D-431 Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6Canada


The careers of male lawyers are radically altered by their experiences in the formation of families. These understudied male experiences fuel income differences, creating a highly hierarchical profession focused around a male mystique of “living large.” This study traces these processes across a 20-year longitudinal study of Toronto lawyers. We argue that time with corporate clients is a very specialized investment that is rewarded with partnership and earnings and that, among men, bears an unexpectedly unique relationship to having children, and that this specialized investment and its relationship to family are more culturally driven than biologically derived.


Les carrières des hommes avocats sont radicalement altérées par les évènements au moment de fonder une famille. Insuffisamment étudiées, ces expériences masculines contribuent à des inégalités salariales, créant une profession éminemment hiérarchique centrée sur une mystique masculine de la « vie d'abondance ». Cet article examine ces processus à l'aide d'une étude longitudinale des expériences des avocats de Toronto, effectuée sur une période de vingt ans. Selon nous, le temps consacré aux clients corporatifs constitue un investissement spécialisé qui est récompensé par l'obtention d'un partenariat ainsi que par des gains monétaires. Parmi les hommes, cet investissement est lié inopinément avec le fait d'avoir ou non des enfants. Nous démontrons comment cet investissement spécialisé ainsi que sa relation à la famille sont dictés davantage par des facteurs culturels que par des facteurs biologiques.

Research Article
Copyright © Canadian Law and Society Association 2010

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