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Lawyers in National Policymaking (WP-10-01)

Ann Southworth, Anthony Paik, and John Heinz

Previous research on lawyers engaged in politics analyzed a sample of those who represented conservative or libertarian organizations in the late 1990s. The data examined here deal with organizations and lawyers drawn from the full range of American politics —right, left, and center—and focus on a set of policy initiatives in 2004 and 2005. The authors find that women were overrepresented among lawyers representing liberal activist organizations and strikingly underrepresented among those serving social conservatives. Lawyers for the latter were also much less likely to have prestigious academic credentials than were those serving liberal activists. Moreover, organizations speaking for social and religious conservatives had few ties to other interest groups in the measures used here—joint participation in litigation or in legislative testimony, overlap in boards of directors or advisors, and use of the same lobbying firm. Overall, the network of organizations was sparsely connected. There are, however, two sectors within the network where connections were dense. The first is a cluster of social and religious conservatives; the second and larger sector is a set of businesses and trade associations. Unlike the social conservatives, however, the businesses are not only connected to each other but are well-integrated into the overall system, with many links that provide potential for communication to other sectors. Liberal groups are less densely connected, while having several alternative paths to other parts of the network.

Ann Southworth, Professor of Law, University of California-Irvine

Anthony Paik, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Iowa

John P. Heinz, Research Professor, American Bar Foundation; and Professor Emeritus, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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