Must Read: Judge Kaye & Anne Reddy on Women in Firms

Twenty years ago Judith Kaye - now the Chief Judge of New York's Court of Appeals and a keynote speaker at Ms. JD's Student Leadership Summit - published a breakthrough study in the Fordham Law Review on the state of gender equity in law firms. In their current volume Fordham Law Review is publishing a follow-up, "The Progress of Women Lawyers at Big Firms: Steadied or Simply Studied?"

There's good news and bad. Since 1988 there are more female attorneys and more female attorneys in senior positions. But inequities remain - in compensation and in position.

  • In 1988, fewer than 8% of partners at big firms were women, although the associate entry-level class was 40% female. In 2007, women accounted for 16% of equity partners, 26% of nonequity partners, and 30% of “of counsel” lawyers, although the associate entry-level class was close to half female.
  • As recently as November 2007, the National Association of Women Lawyers found that, of thirty-five firms willing to report compensation by gender, the average median compensation of a male equity partner was almost $90,000 higher than that of a female equity partner, $27,000 higher than that of a female nonequity partner, and $20,000 higher in the of counsel position.
  • 90% of firms report their top earning member is a man.

I recommend the article, especially to those considering a career in a big firm.

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