The Legal Academy’s Ideological Uniformity

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We study the ideological balance of the legal academy and compare it with the ideology of the legal profession more broadly. To do so, we match professors listed in the Association of American Law Schools’ Directory of Law Teachers and lawyers listed in the Martindale-Hubbell directory to a measure of political ideology based on political donations. We find that 15 percent of law professors, compared with 35 percent of lawyers, are conservative. This may not simply be due to differences in their backgrounds: the legal academy is still 11 percentage points more liberal than the legal profession after controlling for several relevant individual characteristics. We argue that law professors’ ideological uniformity marginalizes them but that it may not be possible to improve the ideological balance of the legal academy without sacrificing other values.

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