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Male Lawyers Over 25 Earn More than Female Counterparts

Female Lawyer

Concerns about a pay gap within the legal industry have been raised following the release of research by Eversheds, a global legal firm. Over the age of 25, female lawyers earn significantly less than their male counterparts.

Interestingly, female lawyers under the age of 25 actually earn more than their male contemporaries. However, this is quickly reversed, and after the age of 25 takes the form of a more conventional pay gap with men earning more than their female contemporaries.

Over the age of 25, female lawyers earn 11% less than men. By the time they reach their mid-30s, they earn a full 25% less than their male colleagues in the same age group. This has led to fresh concerns about whether the legal industry is doing enough to support female talent, and to retain skilled women within the industry.

The same research examined the long-term career plans of lawyers. This aspect of the study revealed that only 34% of women intend to stay in a law firm for their remaining career, and only 57% aspire to become a partner in a law firm.

It is possible that this pay gap contributes to the lack of satisfaction among female lawyers with their profession. However, it is worth noting that the study also found men were dissatisfied with the legal profession, albeit to a lesser extent.

Reasons for dissatisfaction with the legal profession for both genders include unrealistically long working hours and a resulting poor work/life balance. Many lawyers stated an intention to become established enough within the legal field to seek an in-house role. This is generally considered an option that offers greater flexibility, more manageable hours, and a better work/life balance than working within a law firm.

Indeed, working hours seem to be a key concern that keeps people of both genders from aspiring towards a partnership. Trainees have to put in long hours, but there is a general feeling that this should give way later in your career and that former trainees should be rewarded for their work with more manageable hours. Instead, however, there is a general feeling that becoming a partner involves losing most of your free time to work.

The lack of flexibility and poor work/life balance is heightened for women by the industry’s lack of flexibility regarding childcare. This has led many women within the industry to find that, in spite of promises to the contrary, the idea of continuing to work on a suitably flexible basis after giving birth is difficult or impossible to achieve.