Can Litigation Finance Help the Gender Pay Gap?

By Aviva Will, Bloomberg Law

It’s tempting to respond with dismay to Major, Lindsey & Africa’s recent survey on gender pay differences in law, showing an astounding 44 percent difference in pay between female and male partners at big American law firms.

And I understand why many feel cynical about the prospects for closing this gap. The “good news” is that the gender pay is down from 47 percent in 2014 — but at that rate, it will take almost 30 years to close the pay gap, and today’s women partners will be retired before equity is achieved.

Outrage and cynicism are understandable emotions — and all too abundant in this political season. But they don’t fix the underlying problem. I’d like to suggest a more pragmatic approach — one that will, I believe, help close the pay gap for women and men in law more quickly and decisively.

It boils down to a single word: Origination.

Origination is the necessary stock in trade for anyone, male or female, who wants to succeed in an American law firm. Bringing in new business is the basis on which promotion and monetary compensation are based.

It’s very simple: Rightly or wrongly, there is a direct link between one’s success as a rainmaker and one’s pay as a lawyer, and that is not likely to change any time soon. So if we want to close the pay gap in law, we should focus on helping women lawyers to be better rainmakers.

The research reinforces this. As Jeffrey A. Lowe of Major, Lindsey & Africa said, “We asked partners to pinpoint the factors underlying the pay differences, and the No. 1 factor was origination.”

Read more of this article at Bloomberg Law.


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