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Firm/Employee Matching: An Industry Study of American Lawyers

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  • Paul Oyer
  • Scott Schaefer

Abstract

We study the sources of match-specific value at large American law firms by analyzing how graduates of law schools group into law firms. We measure the degree to which lawyers from certain schools concentrate within firms and then analyze how this agglomeration can be explained by "natural advantage" factors (such as geographic proximity) and by productive spillovers across graduates of a given school. We show that large law firms tend to be concentrated with regard to the law schools they hire from and that individual offices within these firms are substantially more concentrated. The degree of concentration is highly variable, as there is substantial variation in firms' hiring strategies. There are two main drivers of variation in law school concentration within law offices. First, geography drives a large amount of concentration, as most firms hire largely from local schools. Second, we show that school-based networks (and possibly productive spillovers) are important because partners' law schools drive associates' law school composition even controlling for firm, school, and firm/school match characteristics and when we instrument for partners' law schools.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18620.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18620

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  1. Rachel M. Hayes & Paul Oyer & Scott Schaefer, 2006. "Coworker Complementarity and the Stability of Top-Management Teams," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 184-212, April.
  2. James B. Rebitzer & Lowell J. Taylor, 2006. "When Knowledge is an Asset: Explaining the Organizational Structure of Large Law Firms," NBER Working Papers 12583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Sanjeev Goyal & Marco van der Leij & José Luis Moraga Gonzales, 2004. "Economics: An Emerging Small World?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1287, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Garicano, Luis & Hubbard, Thomas N, 2007. "Managerial Leverage Is Limited by the Extent of the Market: Hierarchies, Specialization, and the Utilization of Lawyers' Human Capital," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(1), pages 1-43, February.
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  6. Ellison, G. & Glaeser, E.L., 1994. "Geographic Concentration in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: A Dartboard Approach," Working papers 94-27, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  7. Mario Pagliero, 2007. "The Impact of Potential Labor Supply on Licensing Exam Difficulty in the US Market for Lawyers," CHILD Working Papers wp19_08, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  8. Garicano, Luis & Hubbard, Thomas N., 2005. "Hierarchical sorting and learning costs: Theory and evidence from the law," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 349-369, October.
  9. Kahn, Charles & Huberman, Gur, 1988. "Two-sided Uncertainty and "Up-or-Out" Contracts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 423-44, October.
  10. Jonathan Levin & Steven Tadelis, 2005. "Profit Sharing and the Role of Professional Partnerships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(1), pages 131-171, January.
  11. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Glenn Ellison & Edward L. Glaeser, 1999. "The Geographic Concentration of Industry: Does Natural Advantage Explain Agglomeration?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1862, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Montgomery, James D, 1991. "Social Networks and Labor-Market Outcomes: Toward an Economic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1407-18, December.
  14. Arijit Mukherjee, 2008. "Career Concerns, Matching, And Optimal Disclosure Policy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1211-1250, November.
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