Beyond the headlines - Laurence Simons

International Women's Day

Look beyond the

Shining a light on pay disparity in the legal industry

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How can you embrace equality in your organisation?

We invite you to a private, interactive session on April 26th hosted by our CEO, Clare Beresford. Clare is an industry expert and leader who brings vast experience driving equality and visionary leadership to the C-Suite level and for those building teams at the most senior levels of the Legal Industry.

This opportunity will be an informal session where we can share the challenges currently faced across companies, even with equal pay bandings, to ensure that equity is being built into the organisation. Clare will share how those leading and recruiting into senior legal roles can redress the balance at C-Suite and Equity Partner level. Please note that you will be on camera; the session will not be recorded, and Chatham house rules will apply.

Spaces are very limited; sign up now to avoid missing out.

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Pay in the Legal Industry


Pay disparity starts early.


Pay disparity is a recurring theme being raised every International Women’s Day, and yet, it is still a pervasive issue in many industries, including the legal industry. In fact, a recent analysis shows that the median pay gap in the industry of 25.4% has changed very little since reporting on pay was made mandatory in 2017 (Global Legal Post).

Encouragingly, a growing number of young women are enrolling in legal courses (nearly 71% of enrolled students are women, according to the Law Society). While this number is inspiring, the reality that these young women face when they do qualify as lawyers is a disparity between their compensation and that of their male peers; on average, 15% less in compensation, according to Bloomberg. This disparity can grow to 50% less salary for female trial lawyers in the UK (Bar Council).

The inequality continues for women as they progress in their legal careers.


The rate of progress to close the gender pay gap in the legal industry has been frustratingly slow. This slow progression has not gone unnoticed by female professionals in the field; in a recent poll, 84% of UK female lawyers said they did not expect to see gender pay equality during their careers (WorldTrademarkReview).

"84% of UK female lawyers said they did not expect to see gender pay equality during their careers"

Making Partner is an incredible milestone for any in private practice. In the UK, female representation in all levels of Partnership is only 35%, according to SRA. The unfortunate reality is that those few women who do manage to break the glass ceiling and make Partner at their firm (at any level) are still subjected to pay disparity. According to Bloomberg, compensation on average for women at all levels of Partnership in the legal industry is 44% less than that of their male colleagues.

While the inequality is less pronounced when it comes to in-house legal functions, female Corporate Counsel do make less than their male peers. According to Reuters, the average compensation for a women Corporate Counsel is 14% less.

Pay disparity remains a reality, even at the highest levels.


When it comes to the senior most level of Partnership, we see these numbers grow. While the data is challenging to uncover, in the United States, where women account for only 22% of Equity Partners, they are still subject to pay inequality making only 78% of what their male colleagues do (Bloomberg). When looking at the disparity for senior in-house Counsel, the gap in real US dollars is $50,000 less for female General Counsel (Barker Gilmore).

The unfortunate reality of the pay disparity in the legal industry is that while two-thirds of female lawyers note the gender pay gap as an urgent issue for women’s equality, few feel this urgency is shared. In fact, 62% of those surveyed believed that fixing the problem was not actually a priority for their senior management (WorldTrademarkReview).