Scholars and practitioners have extensively examined patterns of racial inequality in U.S. corporate law firms. In the corporate bar, pull factors that have long shaped legal professionals’ careers include promotions, outside job offers, and family priorities that may lead to leaving the labor force altogether. Push factors, such as discrimination, problems with management, and work-life conflict, also precipitate work transitions. Beyond corporate firms, however, an urgent question remains open to empirical scrutiny: How does race affect career moves in the contemporary American legal profession?

In this Article, I address this question drawing upon data from the first nationally representative, longitudinal survey of U.S. lawyers. This study is one of few that uses event history analysis as a statistical technique to examine legal careers. It also draws on in-depth interviews to unravel how lawyers view their experiences at firms. These legal professionals detail how race influences assignment distribution and promotion within American law firms. Assessment of work histories of over 4,000 law school graduates, from the time they were admitted to practice in the year 2000, shows that, all else being equal, Black lawyers are pushed out of private law firms at much higher rates than white lawyers. As Black lawyers continue to strive for racial equality, these results indicate that race-conscious remedies remain critical not only for the future of law firms, but also for the broader legal profession.