January 23, 2014 Practice Points

Female Partners Earn 30% Less Than Male Partners

By Stefanie Wayco, Esq.

According to a recent Law 360 article, the pay gap between male and female partners continues to grow. Major Lindsey and ALM Legal Intelligence surveyed over 2,200 partners across the nation to analyze partner compensation. According to the survey, partner compensation in law firms averaged approximately $680,000 in 2012, but with growing disparities across the gender divide. Specifically, in 2012, male partners earned on average $734,000 while female partners averaged $497,000, or approximately two-thirds as much as male partners. Comparatively, in 2010, male partners earned $675,000 and women partners earned $513,000.

Jeffrey Lowe, the global practice leader and author of the survey, noted that the women he spoke to were not surprised by the results and seemed resigned to the disparity.

The growing pay gap is also seen in equity and nonequity partner compensation. In 2012, equity partners earned an average of $896,000, two-and-a-half times more than nonequity partners who averaged $335,000. In 2010, equity partners averaged $811,000 and nonequity partners earned $336,000, slightly more than their present-day average.

The disparity is also highlighted in comparing firms with open and closed compensation systems. In open compensation systems, partners earned $810,000 on average. Comparatively, partners in closed systems earned $465,000—a difference of roughly 42 percent. Partners in partially open system earned on average $515,000.

According to Lowe, partners are concerned with the level of cronyism that affects partnership-compensation decisions. Lowe stated, however, that origination also continues to drive compensation.

Keywords: litigation, woman advocate, career, pay, inequity

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