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Looking to close the gender pay gap? Negotiation is key, free guide says

Posted Jul 17, 2013 12:37 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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Even firms with written compensation policies often have a host of informal criteria when it comes to deciding how much partners are compensated.

And because there is so much uncertainty when it comes to pay decisions and subjective requirements, the ABA has published a free downloadable guide— What You Need to Know about Negotiating Compensation (PDF)—to help women in particular navigate the system.

“This comprehensive guide for negotiation empowers female partners with an arsenal of information and insight into the compensation processes at law firms,” said ABA President Laurel Bellows, whose Task Force on Gender Equity is responsible for producing the pamphlet with the ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession. “Information is power. The ‘know your law firm’ information set out in this guide will catapult more women forward across the remaining barriers to gender equity.”

The 20-page guide walks lawyers through identifying who makes compensation decisions, the criteria most often used and making sure decisionmakers are aware of accomplishments.

The booklet closes with tips on positively positioning women for the future, and advises women in particular to:

1) Learn from past experiences.
2) Accept that negotiation is something that has to be done; no one else will do it for you.
3) Anticipate challenges.
4) Have a solid career development plan.
5) Keep a journal or 'brag book' of accomplishments.
6) Enlist allies to advocate on your behalf.
7) Help other women.

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