New Millenium, Same Glass Ceiling? The Impact of Law Firm Compensation Systems on Women

The Project for Attorney Retention & Minority Corporate Counsel Association

Annually, a number of sources document the slow gains being made in the advancement of women to the partnership ranks of major law 5rms, where women now represent only 16% of equity partners nationwide.4 Each time new statistics like these are released, they garner lots of attention. However, less attention is paid to the challenges women face when seeking to be compensated for their work on par with their male peers. Women law firm partners are a case in point. They earn dramatically less than their male counterparts: equity partners average $66,000 less, while income partners average $25,000 less.

This study, based on a survey of nearly 700 women law 5rm partners, offers insights into their experiences and perspectives about compensation, explores possible reasons for the pay gap, and identifies best practices to close that gap. Both majority and minority women were surveyed: 14% of respondents were women of color. Among the women of color respondents, 55% reported they were equity partners and 45% reported they were income partners. 7 Among the majority partners, 40% were income partners and 60% were equity partners.

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