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Female Lawyers Paid $67,911 Less than Men – Bonuses Create Chasm

Posted by: Laurence Simons 06/02/13
  • Female lawyers’ average total compensation is 21% less than men’s
  • Average female bonus is $29,594 lower than men’s
  • Men’s average base salary is $38,317 more than females’, while the average total compensation difference is $67,911
  • Male basic salaries have declined by $4,097 since 2011

The average female senior lawyer is paid $67,911 less per year than male counterparts according to the 2013 Market Report from specialist legal and compliance recruiter Laurence Simons.* The research among 280 lawyers, 64% of whom were male and 36% female with an average of 16 or more years’ post-bar experience, found men received total compensation of $329,414 in 2012 compared with $261,503 for women.

This difference extends to both bonuses and salaries. Female lawyers receive 27% less in bonus than the average man - $80,344 for women compared with $109,937 for men. In terms of salary, women receive $181,159 compared with $219,476 for men, meaning women receive 83% of the average male salary. However, male salary levels have decreased by 1.8% since 2011.

Carey Bertolet, co-managing partner at Laurence Simons said,
“The truth behind these statistics is that most men and women will be none the wiser about what any of their colleagues earn, irrelevant of gender. A female senior lawyer earning over $260,000 would perhaps view this as a fantastic compensation package, one that would not come into question, unless they were to realize that someone with the same skills and experience were receiving almost $68,000 more. The real issue is less about gender inequality; than transparency of compensation levels and how these are broken down and achieved.”

In-House vs. Law Firm Professionals
The disparity in salary and bonus levels between genders is prevalent in both in-house legal departments and law firms; with the average difference in total compensation amounting to $73,601 in law firms and $58,738 in legal departments. The disproportion in basic salary for females in law firms equates to 27% less than males and 15% for those working within legal departments. Bonus levels paint a similar picture with female in-house lawyers receiving 16% less than men and those within practice being paid 27% of the average bonus received by a male lawyer.

Danice Kowalczyk, co-managing partner at Laurence Simons comments:
“The fact that men and women are being paid disproportionately within practice and in-house is a major concern for the future of the legal sector as it demonstrates the extent to which this disproportion has stretched. Women within law firms receiving 73% less in bonus in comparison to a male colleague is a shocking statistic, one that will need to be addressed in the future. It is important to remember though that this does not mean all organizations structure their compensation in this way and there have been many positive steps taken by numerous companies to ensure equality in the workplace.”