Women in the Law
In Equity Partner Ranks, Men Earn an Average of $87K More than Women
Posted Nov 18, 2008 9:50 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Women lawyers at large law firms earn less than their male counterparts at all levels, but the difference is especially pronounced among equity partners, according to a new survey.
On average, women earn $7,000 less in annual pay than men at the associate level, $14,000 less if they are of-counsel, $23,000 less at the nonequity partner level, and $87,000 less if they are equity partners, according to the survey (PDF posted by the Am Law Daily). In 99 percent of large law firms providing salary data, the most highly compensated partner is a man.
The median annual compensation is $660,000 for male equity partners and $573,000 for female equity partners, according to the survey by the National Association of Women Lawyers. The difference was least pronounced at the associate level, where females earned a median of $168,000, compared to $175,000 for males.
The survey was sent to the nation’s 200 largest law firms, and 137 responded. However, only 59 firms provided compensation information.
The survey also found that women are underrepresented in leadership ranks. Women make up only about 16 percent of equity partners and 6 percent of managing partners. And minority women are much less likely to be in partnership positions that white lawyers of either gender or minority men.
Lisa Horowitz, the president of NAWL, cited a couple reasons for the pay difference in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. One factor, she said, is that women are less likely to brag about their work. A second problem is that law firms value business generation more highly than contributions such as mentoring or participating in firm management.
Stephanie Scharf, chair of the NAWL committee that conducted the survey, told Law Blog that the focus on business generation is particularly troubling during the economic downturn. Firms are more likely to demote partners who don’t have a big book of business, and that has a disproportionate impact on women, she said.
Hat tip to the Am Law Daily.