Freshfields narrows gender pay gap for third year

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Ethnicity, disability and LGBTQ+ results also improve

Freshfields‘ overall gender pay gap figures have decreased this year, maintaining the ongoing trend since 2019.

The magic circle firm’s 2021 mean gender pay gap is 52.1%, inclusive of partners, representing a slight decrease on last year’s result of 54.5%. The gap stood at 57.2% in 2019.

Looking at just partners, the gender pay gap decreased from 2.4% in 2020 to -2.6% in 2021. The mean gender pay gap for employees is less than 1%.

Freshfields also reported a drop in its ethnicity pay gap, from 59.5% to 50.5%. The firm said 19% of its UK partners and employees identified as part of a minority ethnic group in 2021.

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Freshfields has published its gender pay gap since 2017, and on a voluntary basis, its ethnicity pay gap since 2018. This year for the second time it has included data on its disability and sexual orientation pay gaps.

Its disability and LGBTQ+ pay gaps came out at 52.5% and 33.4%, respectively, a marked decrease on the firm’s first year results of 65.4% and 49.4%.

Claire Wills, London managing partner, commented: “We are pleased to see continued improvements in reducing pay gaps, yet there is still much progress to be made. We are building a focus on measurable change and our targets include shining a light on leadership and representation at different levels. This will aim to ensure a more balanced representation across seniority levels at the firm, which will in turn have a positive impact on pay gaps.”

Linklaters was the first of the magic circle firms to report its 2021 gender and ethnicity pay gaps back in January, coming out at 61.9% and 36.5%, respectively.

Earlier this month a number of top firms were left red-faced after a Twitter bot targeted them on International Women’s Day with details of their gender pay gap. The account, @PayGapApp, retweeted firms celebrating the global day with an automated response detailing their hourly median pay gap, prompting some outfit’s to delete their original posts.

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Wokey Cokey

“Yet there is still much progress to be made.? Why? This data set is meaningless and “progress” means that steps are taken to prefer one gender’s career prospects and income over another gender’s income. That sort of deliberate discrimination must be based on objectively assessed criteria. What are they?



I’ve seen you (or someone with the same view and writing style) comment on this topic several times – you seem desperate for men to be seen as oppressed when it comes to discussing the pay gap LOL.

Levelling the playing field and ensuring structures are in place so that women can succeed and move up into higher paying jobs is not deliberate discrimination. It’s countering the fact WOMEN faced deliberate discrimination in the workplace since we were allowed to work. You seem to be very annoyed people are working towards this not being the case.

If women aren’t getting into these positions due to factors such as childcare etc., then we need a societal shift and these gap discussions are an important tool to enable us to do this.

P.S. ‘woke’ just means being alert to injustice in society, so you’re constantly telling on your self with your name.


Genuine query

How much do junior commercial barristers earn? Asking for a friend



Also interested to see if I’m outearning a ‘friend’. After taking into account their expenses like any chamber fees etc


Hungary Games

By year 2 or 3, ie. at the stage of 1 or 2 year PQE for solicitors, £300k-£350k with expenses generally running about 22-23% of fees. And you get to pay your tax way later than you earn it so it generates a nice capital kitty too.


Enough fibbing please... please?

£300k? Expenses running to 20%+ of income? You’re either pulling this out of your arse to make the freshers feel insecure or your friends are telling porkies (probably the former).

Try £200k and expenses of 5-10%.

Generally commercial barristers will out earn their solicitor counterparts on the junior end, though the difference isn’t that great if you compare against Cravath scale firms that pay generous bonuses. It also depends on the area of commercial law – a junior at Quadrant who only does shipping and insurance disputes will be outearned by someone at Monckton.



The expenses figure would be the taxable costs deducted from earnings on annual accounts, not just Chambers expenses. So much more than 5-10%.


Unlikely when you take into account the perks of employment such as employer’s pension contributions, contributions to private health insurance etc.


Imminent trainee

Why is there a gap between pay in the first place? Perhaps I don’t understand the way pay works after NQ but if a firm has a base rate that applies dependent on PQE then shouldn’t there be no distinction?



Because the pay gap takes into account how certain demographics are more likely to be in senior, high paying positions


very amateur statistician

think it is just averaging the pay of all employees and partners of both genders.

in fact if i read it correctly, the average male non partner makes 1% more than a female one, while the average male partner makes 2% less than a female one. the headline stat is just telling you that there are way more male partners who make the male overall average a lot higher than the female one.



Exactly, the ‘gap’ is nothing to do with gender, its deliberately misleading.


Sufra Jette

Misogynist! How dare you question! You are part of the systemic oppression of women.


Rudolf Reindeer

They should be more concerned about the pay gap with US firms.


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