Date : 11-24-2008
Study Finds Female Lawyers Earn up to $87K Less than Male Associates
The National Association of Women Lawyers released a 2008 Survey of 137 law firms regarding the Status of Women in Law Firms, shedding light on the impact of lateral moves and firm structure on women's advancement in law firms. Findings of the survey were disappointing, showing male equity partners still out-earn women on average and the number of women in law firm leadership roles continues to be small. The outlook for women of color is even bleaker, as women of color are much less likely to be in partnership positions than white lawyers of either gender or men of color. At every stage of practice, men out-earn women lawyers, a finding consistent with the NAWL'S two previous surveys completed in 2006 and 2007. In up to 99% of large law firms, the most highly paid employee is male. Pay can differ up to $87,000 annually in the position of equity partners, favoring men. Even starting out as associates, women on average earn $7,000 less than men. It gets worse the higher the positions go. Of-counsel males earn $14,000 more than females, and non-equity male partners earn $23,000 more than female partners. The most disturbing disparity is seen in equity partner ranks, where men earn $87,000 more than women.
What makes this survey so shocking is women start out in close to equal numbers to men when they enter law firms as first year associates, making up 48% of all first and second year associates, reflecting the same percentage found in law schools across the country. Associate statistics have not changed much for the last 20 years, illustrating that close to the same amount of women have been entering the workplace in the previous two decades. The survey uses the following imagery to show what the statistics really mean to women in leadership positions: if a client were to enter a room of 50 first-year associates, almost half would be women. In contrast, the client entered a room of 50 equity partners in the average large firm, only eight would be women. Virtually every large firm identified a highest governing committee, overseeing the firm's business. The committee on average is has 11-12 members, most overwhelmingly male. On average, the governing committee is 85% male, and 15% of the nation's largest firms have absolutely no female members.
There is good news though, nearly 97% if large firms have implemented women's initiatives, providing a combination of programs on professional development, networking, mentoring, and business development.
This was the third annual report on a national survey on the retention and promotion of women in firms.
The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) is the leading national voluntary organization devoted to the interests of women lawyers and women's rights. Founded over 100 years ago, NAWL has historically served as an educational forum and an active voice for the concerns of women in the legal profession.
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