Quartet of law firms unveil gender pay and bonus gaps

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By Katie King on

Results are in for Addleshaw Goddard, Travers Smith, Mishcon de Reya and DAC Beachcroft

A quartet of commercial law firms have unveiled their gender pay gap stats, some revealing differences in average bonus pay of more than 50%.

By law, all big businesses must publish their employee gender pay gap statistics, including: the difference in women’s mean and median hourly rate compared to men’s, and how much less (or more) women’s average bonus pay is.

All staff members are included in the calculations and, though the results look stark, a lot can be put down to distribution of roles. There tends to be a higher number of women in administrative, lower-paid positions as well as more women working part-time, while the upper pay quartile is usually more equal.

Addleshaw Goddard is one of the four firms whose data has just been released, this showing a mean gender pay gap of 23.8% and a median of 16.4%.

Of those falling in the outfit’s lower pay quartile, 71% are women, while the upper quartile almost has gender parity. The firm cites this as a reason for its gender pay gap, adding that location plays a role, too. Support staff, which tend to be women, are often based in the firm’s Leeds and Manchester offices, where salaries are lower than in London. Addleshaw’s gender bonus gap is 43.2% (mean) and 33.3% (median).

Also having announced its gender pay gap data is Travers Smith, this being 14.8% mean and 39.1% median. Its pay stats also show that while a higher percentage of women receive a bonus compared to men, the median bonus pay gap is 78.4% (and the mean is 37.8%). The firm’s report states:

“The reason that we have a gender pay gap is that there are a significantly higher proportion of women performing roles in business services, and all of our PAs are women. Over two thirds of this population are in roles which are typically lower paid compared with legal roles. The greater proportion of women in lower paid jobs is the main driver of our gender pay gap in relation to the hourly rate.”

Travers Smith has also taken the unusual step of breaking its gender pay gap down to specific lawyer roles. It says there’s a mean gender pay gap of 1.3% among associates and 5.2% among senior associates. The average hourly rate paid to female senior counsel is 1.8% higher than men.

As for Mishcon de Reya, women’s mean hourly rate at this top firm is 17.3% lower than men’s, while the median gender pay figure is 37.4%.

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Again, a higher percentage of woman secured bonuses, yet both the mean and median bonus pay is much lower for women: 41.9% and 50.9% respectively.

On this, the firm says the fact a number of its female staff members work part-time has an impact on its bonus gap, which is calculated in reference to actual amounts paid rather than on percentage of earnings. It’s also worth mentioning 97% of those filling the firm’s secretarial and legal operations roles are female.

And, finally, onto DAC Beachcroft, a firm whose hourly pay gap is 27.1% mean and 22.6% median. Women are overrepresented at every pay quartile at the international firm, yet: “The higher proportion of women than men in all the other quartiles has the effect of diluting the impact of the females in the top quartile on the average female salary.”

While many firms use the high number of female PAs and secretaries solely to explain the dominance of women in their lowest pay quartile, DAC Beachcroft offers another explanation. It says:

“This distribution, and particularly the predominance of women in the lower quartiles , in part reflects the fact that more women than men are now entering the profession. The female strength in law graduates, training contracts and new admissions is reflected in our own workforce where 67% of our fee earners at senior associate and below are female.”

All major firms will be required to disclose their gender pay data by 4 April, with a number of outfits having already done so.

Two of these come from the magic circle: Linklaters and Allen & Overy. The former, we learnt from its report, pays its female staff members a mean hourly rate of 23% less than its male staff members. The difference in median money is wider: 39%.

As for Allen & Overy, whose pay stats we reported on only yesterday, women here earn a mean hourly rate 19.8% less than men. The median hourly rate is 27.4% less.

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