Department of Sociology

Department of

Sociology

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Fiona M. Kay

Thomas Abrams

Professor

Ph.D. University of Toronto
Email: kayf@queensu.ca
Office: Macintosh-Corry Hall, D527
Phone: (613) 533-6000 ext. 74486

Biography

Dr. Fiona Kay is Professor in the Department of Sociology at Queen’s University. Her research is in the areas of inequality, professions, and law. She has examined the impact of gender, race and ethnicity on hiring, promotion, and earnings, as well as the ways that organizational practices and workplace cultures shape opportunities and rewards. Her recent work with Dr. Elizabeth Gorman (University of Virginia) examines organizational initiatives aimed at general skills development and the consequences for racial minority diversity within elite professional service firms, as well as the influence of corporate clients in promoting diversity in professional service firms. In her ongoing projects, she explores lawyers’ pro bono (voluntary) service and its contribution to access to justice; attrition of women from private law practice; lateral mobility across firms; education and regulation of paralegals; and shifting jurisdictional boundaries between legal professions in civil law context.

Professor Kay’s research is published widely in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including: American Sociological Review, Social Problems, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Research in Sociology of Work, Advances in Life Course Research, Sociological Inquiry, British Journal of Sociology, Canadian Review of Sociology, Journal of Criminal Justice, and Crime and Delinquency. Her work has also been published in numerous law and law-related journals, including: Law & Society Review, Law & Policy, Law & Social Inquiry, Canadian Journal of Law and Society, Studies in Law, Politics & Society, The International Journal of the Sociology of Law, The International Journal of Law in Context, McGill Law Review, Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Studies in Law, Politics and Society, and The Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies.

She has also published chapters in several edited volumes and annuals, including Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences and The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She is author (with John Hagan) of Gender in Practice: A Study of Lawyers’ Lives (Oxford University Press) and editor (with Richard Johnston) of Social Capital, Diversity, and the Welfare State (University of British Columbia Press).

Her research has been covered by media outlets such as Law Times, National Post, National (magazine of the Canadian Bar Association), Lexpert, Precedent, Toronto Star, CBC News, and the Globe and Mail.

Currently, Professor Kay is engaged in several projects: (1) a study of U.S. corporate law firms and racial minority representation (with Dr. Elizabeth Gorman, University of Virginia); (2) a longitudinal study of the careers of Canadian lawyers; (3) a study of pro bono work among lawyers (with Dr. Robert Granfield, SUNY Buffalo); and (4) a study paralegals and professional regulation. Research projects have been funded by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Law School Admission Council, the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Law Society of Ontario, and the Canadian Bar Association.

Professor Kay teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels on the sociology of law, work and occupations, sociology of professions, gender and crime, and research methods.

Professor Kay welcomes students to undertake graduate research projects in the study of work and occupations and the sociology of law. She also encourages undergraduate and graduate students to apply for research assistant positions.

Research Interests

  • Sociology of law
  • Sociology of professions
  • Work and occupations
  • Life course research
  • Quantitative and mixed methods

Teaching 

  • SOCY458: Law & ideology
  • SOCY457: Law & social structure
  • SOCY305: Sociology of professions & occupations
  • SOCY389: Gender, law & crime
  • SOCY210: Social research methods

Selected Publications

Choroszewicz, Marta and Fiona Kay. (in press). “Understanding Gender Inequality in the Legal Profession.” In Hilary Sommerlad, Ole Hammerslev, Ulrike Schultz and Richard Abel (editors). Comparing Legal Professions Thirty Years after ‘Lawyers in Society.’ Oxford, UK: Hart Publishing. 

Robert Granfield and Fiona M. Kay (in press). “Pro Bono Legal Work in Canada.” In Scott L. Cummings, Fabio De Sa E. Silva, and Louise G. Trubek. Global Pro Bono: Diffusion, Contestation, Learned Lessons. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Gorman, Elizabeth H. and Fiona M. Kay. 2020. “Skill Development Practices and Racial-Ethnic Diversity in Elite Professional Firms.” Research in the Sociology of Work 34:115-145.

Choroszewicz, Marta and Fiona Kay. 2019. “The Use of Mobile Technologies for Work-to-Family Boundary Permeability: The Case of Finnish and Canadian Male Lawyers.” Human Relations. 1-27. DOI: 10.1177/0018726719865762.

Kay, Fiona M. 2019. “Social Capital, Relational Inequality Theory and Earnings of Racial Minority Lawyers.” Research in the Sociology of Work 32:63-90.

Kay, Fiona M. 2019.  “Gender and Crime.” Pp. 215-236 in Neil Boyd (Editor). Understanding Crime in Canada. (Second edition). Toronto, ON: Emond Montgomery Publications.

Kay, Fiona M. 2019. “Launching Careers in Law: Entry to First Jobs after Law School.” Pp. 95-113 in Marta Choroszewicz and Tracey L. Adams (eds.). Gender, Age and Inequality in the Professions. (Routledge Press).

Deflem, Mathieu & Fiona M. Kay. 2019. “Legal Profession.” In The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, Second Edition, edited by George Ritzer and Chris Rojek. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Plickert, Gabriele, Fiona M. Kay, and John Hagan. 2017. “Depressive Symptoms and the Salience of Job Satisfaction across the Life Course of Professionals.” Advances in Life Course Research 31:22-33. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.alcr.2016.11.001

Kay, Fiona M., Stacey Alarie, and Jones Adjei. 2016. “Undermining Gender Equality: Female Attrition from Private Law Practice.” Law & Society Review. 50(3): 766-801.

Gorman, Elizabeth H. and Fiona M. Kay. 2016. “Which Kinds of Law Firms Have the Most Minority Lawyers?: Organizational Context and the Representation of African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans.” Pages 263-300 in Racial Diversity in the Legal Profession. Edited by Spencer Headworth, Robert L. Nelson, Ronit Dinovitzer, and David B. Wilkins. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Mathieu Deflem and Fiona M. Kay. 2016. “The Legal Profession.” In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Edited by George Ritzer. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Kay, Fiona M. 2015. “Lawyers: The Social Organization of the Profession.” In Levine Kay, Rosann Greenspan, and Barbara Painsack (editors). International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier, Pp. 628-634.

Kay, Fiona M. 2015. Brief Summary and Comparison of Two Recent Ontario Studies of Departures from Private Practice: Leaving Law and Barriers to Re-entry (2013) and the Diversification of Career Paths in Law (2015). A Report to Law Society of Upper Canada. January 2015.

Kay, Fiona M., Jones Adjei, and Stacey Alarie. 2014. The Diversification of Career Pathways in Law. A Report to Law Society of Upper Canada. January 2015. 118 pages. http://www.lsuc.on.ca/uploadedFiles/Equity_and_Diversity/Members2/Fiona_...

Kay, Fiona M., Stacey Alarie, and Jones Adjei. 2013. “Leaving Private Practice: How Organizational Context, Time Pressures, and Structural Inflexibilities Shape Departures from Private Law Practice.” Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 20(2): 1223-1260.

Gorman, Elizabeth H. and Fiona M. Kay. 2013. Law Firm Employment Practices and the Representation of Minority Associates and Partners. A Report to the Law School Admissions Council. May 2013. 110 pages. http://www.lsac.org/docs/default-source/research-%28lsac-resources%29/gr...

Kay, Fiona M., Stacey Alarie, and Jones Adjei. 2013. Leaving Law and Barriers to Re-entry: A Study of Departures from and Re-entries to Private Practice. A Report to the Law Society of Upper Canada (86 pages). See: http://www.lsuc.on.ca/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=2147494539

Wallace, Jean E. and Fiona M. Kay. 2012. “Tokenism, Organizational Segregation, and Coworker Relations in Law Firms.” Social Problems 59(3): 389-410.

Kay, Fiona M. and Elizabeth H. Gorman. 2012. “Developmental Practices, Organizational Culture, and Minority Representation in Organizational Leadership: The Case of Partners in Large U.S. Law Firms.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 639: 91-113.

Conference Presentations (last 5 years)

2020.   “Skill Development Practices and Racial-ethnic Diversity in Elite Professional Firms.” Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) Virtual Conference, July 2020 (with Elizabeth Gorman).

2019. “Supportive Relations in a Feminized Occupation: How Male and Female Veterinarians Compare.” Canadian Sociology Association Annual Meeting, Canadian Congress, Vancouver, British Columbia, June 2019 (with Jean E. Wallace).

2019. “Corporate Clients and the Progress of Women in U.S. Law Firms.” Law & Society Association Annual Meeting. Washington, D.C., June 2019 (with Elizabeth Gorman).

2018. “Mobile Technologies and Work-to-Family Boundary Permeability as a Professional Norm in the Private Law Practice in Finland and Canada.” Gendered Globalization of the Legal Professions Conference. Geneva, Switzerland. May 2018 (with Marta Choroszewicz).

2017. “Developmental Practices and Organizational Race and Gender Diversity,” Section on Organizations, Occupations, and Work Open Topic. American Sociology Association Annual Meeting. Montreal, Quebec. August 2017 (with Elizabeth Gorman).

2017. “Clientele and the Progress of Women and Racial Minorities in U.S. Corporate Law Firms.” Joint mini-conference sponsored by Economic Sociology and Organizations, Occupations, and Work Sections of American Sociology Association, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, 11 August 2017.

2017. “Diversity and Equality among Lawyers in Civil Law Context: A Comparison of Finland and Quebec, Canada.” Law & Society Association Annual Meeting. Mexico City, Mexico. 20-23 June 2017 (with Marta Choroszewicz).

2017. “Work Satisfaction, Mentoring Relationships, and Gendered Careers in Law.” Being a Lawyer in Europe and Canada: Careers, Inequalities, Transformations. Conférence organisée par le Centre de Droit Comparé Européen et International (UNIL) et le Centre en Etudes Genre (UNIL), Mercredi 22 mars 2017, Université de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

2016. “Undermining the Pipeline to Gender Equality: Female Attrition from Private Law Practice.” American Sociology Association Annual Meetings, Seattle, Washington, 22 August 2016 (with Stacey Alarie and Jones Adjei).

2016. “Clientele and the Progress of Women and Racial Minorities in U.S. Corporate Law Firms.” Law & Society Association annual meetings. New Orleans, Tennessee. June 2-5, 2016 (with Elizabeth Gorman).

2016. “Clientele and the Progress of Women and Racial Minorities in U.S. Corporate Law Firms.” Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics annual meetings. Berkeley, California, June 2016 (with Elizabeth Gorman).

2016. Critic on author-meets-critics panel: Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms edited by Laura Empson, Daniel Muzio, Joe Broschak, and Bob Hinings. Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics annual meetings. Berkeley, California, June 2016.

2015. “Mentors and Retention: Do Mentors Stem the Flow of Talent from Law Firms?” Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics. London School of Economics and Political Science, 2-4 July 2015.

2015. “Levelling the Playing Field? Developmental Practices and Diversity in Professional Service Firms.” Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics. London School of Economics and Political Science, 2-4 July 2015 (with Elizabeth Gorman).

2015. “Leveling the Playing Field? Developmental Practices and Minority Representation in Law Firms.” American Law & Society Association Annual Meeting. Seattle, Washington. May 2015 (with Elizabeth Gorman).

2015. “Levelling the Playing Field? Developmental Practices and Minority Representation in Professional Service Firms.” American Sociological Association Annual Meetings. Chicago, Illinois, August 2015 (with Elizabeth Gorman).

2015. “Longitudinal Studies of Lawyers Careers Across Borders.” Panel member of roundtable, “Globalization and its Influence on Methodology: Approaches for Studying Lawyers and the Legal Profession.” Session organizers: Carole Silver (Northwestern) and Jayanth Krishnan (Indiana-Bloomington). American Law & Society Association Annual Meeting. Seattle, Washington. May 2015.

2015. “Leveling the Playing Field? Developmental Practices and Minority Representation in Law Firms.” Southern Sociological Society. New Orleans. March 2015 (with Elizabeth Gorman).