A white woman with brown hair smiles against a blue background.

Meghan Dawe


Resident Research Fellow, HLS Center on the Legal Profession

Meghan Dawe is a Resident Research Fellow at the Center on the Legal Profession and a sociologist whose research analyzes the relationship between law and inequality through the lens of the legal profession and lawyers’ careers. She is engaged in four research projects at the Center on the Legal Profession. The first project is a co-authored book on the results of the first three waves of After the JD (AJD), a national longitudinal study of a cohort of American lawyers based at the American Bar Foundation for which Meghan is the Project Manager:
Nelson, Robert L., Ronit Dinovitzer, Bryant Garth, Joyce S. Sterling, David B. Wilkins, Meghan Dawe, and Ethan Michelson. Forthcoming Fall 2023. The Making of Lawyers’ Careers:
Inequality and Opportunity in the American Legal Profession.Chicago: IL: University of Chicago Press.    
Meghan has co-authored two additional publications based on AJD data and is working on a third paper with project members interrogating the role of geography and markets in shaping the opportunity structure of the legal profession.
Meghan’s second project draws on AJD data to examine the determinants and consequences of student debt in lawyers’ early careers. This research will appear in solo-authored chapter of The Making of Lawyers’ Careers, titled “Student Debt and Cumulative (Dis)Advantage in Lawyer Careers.” She is currently developing a standalone social science journal article that will place her findings on race- and class-based differences in student debt trajectories within the broader context of wealth inequality in the United States.
In collaboration with Ronit Dinovitzer, Meghan’s third project draws on data from Law and Beyond (LAB), which is a survey of lawyers’ careers in Canada that has informed a comprehensive account of the current state of the Canadian legal profession. A second component of this project contrasts LAB and AJD data to analyze the role of national context in shaping lawyers’ careers. This comparative analysis has examined the sorting of recent law school graduates into sectors and practice settings, and they are currently writing an article on career aspirations “Lawyers’ Fictional Futures: Explaining Systemic Inequalities in the Legal Profession across Two National Contexts.”
Meghan’s fourth project draws on data from After Tenure (AT), a national study of tenured law professors in the United States, to examine inequality in the legal academy and the role of cultural conceptions of meritocracy in structuring and reproducing its internal hierarchies. Meghan and co-author Katherine Barnes are currently developing a law review article on the social structure of the legal academy, which will lay the foundation for a social science article that will further probe the mechanisms that (re)produce inequality in this setting.

Recent publications include:
Nelson, Robert L., Ioana Sendroiu, Ronit Dinovitzer and Meghan Dawe. 2019. “Perceiving Discrimination in the Legal Workplace.” Law & Social Inquiry 44(4): 1051-82.
Dawe, Meghan and Ronit Dinovitzer. 2016. “Immigrant Offspring in the Legal Profession: Exploring the Effects of Immigrant Status on Earnings among American Lawyers.” In Diversity in Practice: Race, Gender and Class in Legal and Professional Careers, Spencer Headworth, Robert L. Nelson, Ronit Dinovitzer and David B. Wilkins (eds.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Dinovitzer, Ronit and Meghan Dawe. 2020. “Canada: Continuity and Change in a Modern Legal Profession.” Chapter in Lawyers in 21st Century Societies: National Reports, Richard Abel, Hilary Sommerlad, Ulrich Schultz and Ole Hammerslav, (eds.). Hart Publishing.

Dinovitzer, Ronit and Meghan Dawe. “Early Legal Careers in Comparative Context: Evidence from Canada and the United States.” International Journal of the Legal Profession 23(1): 83-107.
Ryan, CJ and Meghan Dawe. 2021. “Mind the Gap: Gendered Pay Disparities in the Legal Academy.” Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics 34(3): 567-612.

Meghan has an MA and PhD in sociology from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining the Center, she was a Research Social Scientist at the American Bar Foundation. She was involved with several ABF research projects on the legal profession and co-authored The Making of Lawyer Careers: Inequality and Opportunity in the American Legal Profession with Robert L. Nelson, Ronit Dinovitzer, Bryant Garth, Joyce S. Sterling, David B. Wilkins, and Ethan Michelson (under contract with University of Chicago Press). Meghan is Project Manager for the ABF’s After the JD study of lawyer careers.