A 44% Pay Divide for Female and Male Law Partners, Survey Says

By Elizabeth Olsen, New York Times

At big American law firms, female partners still earn 44 percent less in pay than their male partners, largely because men bring in more big-ticket legal cases, or are better at getting credit for doing so.

Female partners earned an average of $659,000 annually compared with an average of $949,000 for male partners, according to the latest survey of big-firm partners released on Wednesday by the legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa.

The survey, which queried 2,100 partners at law firms nationwide, found that average compensation for partners over all was $877,000, which was 22 percent higher than two years ago.

Although billing rates are up across the legal industry, female partners still take home thinner paychecks because, it appears, men are better at receiving credit for landing big cases, according the survey, the fourth in six years.

“We asked partners to pinpoint the factors underlying the pay differences,” said Jeffrey A. Lowe, who heads Major, Lindsey’s law firm business, “and the No. 1 factor was origination,” or who receives credit for bringing a legal matter to the firm.

Rainmaking, or attracting legal work from clients, has always been a top factor in lawyer earning power, and is continuing to grow. The average origination amount, according to the survey, was almost $2.5 million, and that amount was up 25 percent from two years ago. Typically, lawyers’ annual compensation is tied to the amount of business they bring.

“We found that, predominantly, a partner’s compensation is tied to bringing in business to the law firm,” Mr. Lowe said.

Read more of this article at The New York Times.


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