Male solicitors are paid 38% more than women at commercial law firms

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By Jonathan Ames on

The sisters are taking a huge hammering worth thousands of pounds, according to research released yesterday


It pays to be a chap at corporate-commercial law firms, research released today illustrates, providing fodder to the debate over gender discrimination at the top flight of the legal profession.

Boys are paid on average nearly 38% more than girls in the law firm sandpit, according to figures from The Lawyer magazine (registration required).

The publication has released its first-ever legal sector pay survey, and it doesn’t make pleasant reading for the double-X chromosome brigade. The researchers found the average salary for men in private practice was £82,820, while women were on average taking home around £63,500.

That’s a pay gap of £24,000, ladies, so perhaps it’s time to start chaining yourselves to the managing partner’s executive leather chair or throwing yourselves in front of the senior partner’s finest hunting horse.

According to The Lawyer’s researchers, men outpaced women in average pay across all levels of post-qualification experience.

Men in the four-to-six PQE bracket were about 20% better paid than women of equivalent experience. That gap shrank by only 2 points for those in the seven-year-plus PQE group. And the gap went back up to 19% for salaried partners.

According to the magazine, women lawyers could take some comfort from evidence showing they were only marginally more likely to be told to get stuffed than their male counterparts when asking for a pay rise. In last year’s pay round, slightly more than 25% of boys received a big fat nothing, compared with nearly 27% of girls being disappointed.

But the gender gap comes looming back into view for the lucky majority that did get a pay boost. The research shows that slightly more than 47% of women received rises of no more than 5%, compared with 38.5% of the blokes.

But around 16.5% of those in boxer shorts received a 6% to 10% increase, compared with slightly more than 13% of those kitted out in thongs.

The Lawyer research is slightly out of sync with figures from the Law Society. Last year’s private practice earnings review from the body representing solicitors in England & Wales produced a slightly more modest median earnings figure of £80,000 for all solicitors at firms of 81-plus partners.

According to the Chancery Lane figures, London was easily the best place to be an associate with the median earnings figure for all solicitors practising at that level in the capital being £66,500.

Wales came out as the worst spot for those motivated by cash — the median figure for associates practising in the Principality last year was £29,000.

London was predictably the best place to become an equity partner, with median level earnings pegged at £140,000. While Wales again brought up the rear on £45,000, although it was only marginally behind the north-west, which had a median figure of £50,000.