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Will Law Firms Ever Report Their US Gender Pay Gaps?

Aebra Coe LAW360.COM

Law360 (April 5, 2019, 8:09 PM EDT) -- As large law firms in the U.K. report their gender pay gaps to the government for the second year, some say the concept of pay transparency in law firms may ripple across the pond to the U.S., where it could be the impetus for major positive change.

Law firms around the globe have faced calls from clients to do better on diversity for a number of years, but progress has been slow. When it comes to gender diversity specifically, the highest-ranked lawyers are primarily men, and differences in pay reflect that imbalance.

A 2018 survey by recruiting firm Major Lindsey & Africa LLC concluded that, controlling for a slew of factors, unequal pay among partners in U.S. law firms almost entirely comes down to the fact that men often have more originations and higher billing rates than women.

Major Lindsey & Africa global law firm practice group leader Jeffrey Lowe, who helped create the survey and resulting report, says law firms must now identify why there are discrepancies in those areas.

“Are females channeled to less profitable practice areas? Are they not part of the 'old boys' club' and so are not put in line to inherit profitable relationships and develop large books of business?” he asked. “Something is clearly going on here, whether intentional or not, that is leaving female partners making significantly less on average than male partners in law firms.”

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