Magic Circle firms reveal gender pay gap results

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Clifford Chance and Freshfields analyse employee data, including socio-economic background

Magic Circle firms Freshfields and Clifford Chance have released their annual pay gap reports analysing data on gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic background.

Freshfields’ 2022 mean gender pay gap is 53.2%, inclusive of partners, representing a slight increase on last year’s result of 52.1%. The gap stood at 54.5% in 2020.

Looking at just partners, the gender pay gap jumped from -2.6% in 2021 to 12.2% in 2022. The mean gender pay gap for employees is 7.6%.

Freshfields also reported an increase in its ethnicity pay gap, from 50.5% to 55.9%. The firm said 20.9% of its UK partners and employees identified as part of a minority ethnic group in 2022.

Freshfields has published its gender pay gap since 2017, and on a voluntary basis, its ethnicity pay gap since 2018.

Its disability and LGBTQ+ pay gaps came out at 8.8% and -2.8%, respectively, a marked improvement on the previous year’s results of 52.5% and 33.4%.

It has released socio-economic pay gap data for the first time by analysing the pay gap between three groups of parental occupational background: professional, intermediate and lower socio-economic. It showed a mean gap of 27.9% between intermediate and professional; 4.4% between intermediate and lower socio-economic; and 31.3% between professional and lower socio-economic.

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Claire Wills, London managing partner, commented:

“We continue to focus on driving measurable change and ensure transparency as part of our diversity and inclusion commitments. I’m particularly pleased that we are including pay gap figures on socio-economic backgrounds this year, which is a key priority for the firm in our global strategy. Our UK colleagues have shown great engagement, and we have worked in partnership with clients and the broader community on multiple efforts, which we believe will help us eliminate pay gaps over the longer term.”

Over at Clifford Chance, the 2022 mean gender pay gap was 63.5%, inclusive of partners, representing a slight decrease on last year’s result of 64.9%.

The gender pay gap for partners dropped from 27.1% in 2021 to 20% in 2022. The mean gender pay gap for employees is 16.6%.

CC also reported a decrease in its ethnicity pay gap this year, from 53.6% to 45.6%. Its disability and LGBTQ+ pay gaps came out at 12.8% and 25.5%, respectively, improving on last year’s 34.4% and 31.3%.

Clifford Chance’s socio-economic pay gap data is calculated via the same system as Freshfields. It showed a mean gap of 37.4% between intermediate and professional; 13.7% between intermediate and lower socio-economic; and 46% between professional and lower socio-economic.

Allen & Overy and Linklaters published their 2022 results earlier this year. Both firms narrowed their gender pay gaps, with A&O going from 59% to 55.7%, and Links from 61.7% to 60.1%, inclusive of partners. Slaughter and May is due to release its report soon.

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Linklaters released its 2022 pay gap report two months ago…




I wonder what OnlyFans’s gender pay gap is.



This got me good


God Almighty

Fair, just and reasonable.



But I thought all trainees and NQs earn the same? Or do guys tend to get bigger bonuses?



Why do so many people qualify into to finance roles? Is it cushty, easy to grasp?


Trusted advisor

If you wanna work at K&E you need to qualify into leveraged finance (or PE /corporate restructuring). Qualifying into ghastly areas like pensions, competition or intellectual property is just a career-limiting move.



Lool but what’s ghastly is the hours you’ll work in those areas as opposed to IP and pensions. I know what I’ll choose.


West End factotum

I wouldn’t qualify into finance in the next 3-5 years. Restructuring/insolvency or financial regulatory would be a far better choice.


pee pee poo poo

IP is far more interesting. who cares if your career is going to move upward slower. I’d rather enjoy what I do than do something I hate.



Law firms have dug themselves a whole with providing all this data, it is never enough for people. First its gender pay gap, then it is social background paygap, minorities pay gap, LGBTQ+ etc. Its getting to a point where there is simply far too much data being put out there, who decides what is the correct ratio as well? This will not end well.


Get a grip

The crass spelling mistake speaks for itself. But while we’re at it, please think before opening your mouth publicly. If you struggle to interpret the meaning of a few percentage scores you’ve got no one to blame bur yourself. Being aware of how much a minority is underrepresented at a firm is the bare minimum. It tracks the present level of unfairness. And as a queer lawyer it’s disheartening to see that you’ll list my PROTECTED CHARACTERISTIC like that as to imply that trying to have me treated fairly is a trivial addition. There’s a reason we need these statistics and you’re choosing to be part of the reason we’ll keep needing them. EWGH


Spelling Police Caught Out For Negligence

How about your crass spelling mistake “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur” “bur”


Hidden agenda inquisitor

I wonder why you’ve had such an obviously disproportionate reaction.


Law School

What about your crass spelling mistake? “Bur”. You look rather silly now don’t you.


To be fair

Okay confusing ‘whole’ with ‘hole’ is crass. Bur for but is a fat thumb mistake.


Minority associate

That’s exactly why I quit MC to work at an elite US firm.


Lower burden of proof

You should put that in an email to your HR department


Get a grip

Please quote sources on output differences (your daddy’s barrister friends don’t count). Before you do that, though, look up the meaning of the word ‘woke’ — I’m not sure you understand what it means.


Woke is not an insult

“Non-woke” seems to mean “small-minded bigot” but why say that out loud when you can use a dog-whistle phrase instead?


Get a grip

Glad someone in these comments isn’t a complete idiot tbh. Every time LC posts an article about something even loosely related to social justice I’m afraid to read the comments. And these people are?? In the legal profession?? As in they passed the LPC or equivalent??????



Interesting. Is this the same office or does it reflect different markets? I’m at an international firm and we pay the prevailing market rate. In some instances (HK) pay is higher than London – for example, in our capital markets practice. If your colleague is paid less in the same office as their direct peers, that’s fairly outrageous on its face.



“The firm said 20.9% of its UK partners and employees identified as part of a minority ethnic group in 2022.”

Pretty much in-line with UK demographics then.


Is there inflation?

20.8% European, 0.1% others



Why impose the burden on businesses of producing this meaningless crap?


Curious Bystander

Is this due to bias in client preferences? If so, please raise it with your management.


I can fix this

If only high earning women who married husbands who also were high earning could be forced not to have children and choose not to return to the work place. That would significantly improve many of these data sets.



No need for that, just over-promote those who stay!


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