Equality vs. Equity in Legal Workplaces

Arin N. Reeves
February 2009

Female lawyers earn about 78% of male lawyers’ median salaries.  (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008) Female first year associates at law firms earned 89% of male first year associates’ median salaries. (NALP, 2008)

Female capital partners at law firms earned, on average, $87,000 less than male capital partners. (NAWL, 2008) The barrage of statistics released in 2008 on pay differentials between female and male lawyers has reinvigorated the discussion on the progress of women in the legal profession.  Legal blogs are still buzzing with commentaries on whether the pay differentials are caused by employer bias or women’s personal choices.  Are women getting paid unequally for doing the same work or are women choosing to work in ways that pay less?  Those who argue the former call for an examination and correction of compensation policies.  Those who argue the latter celebrate the expansion of choices that women now have to structure their careers in ways that make sense to them

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