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U.S. Census Reports that a Large Gender Pay Gap Still Remains in the Law

The ABA reported that full-time female lawyers earn 77% of their male counterparts. These numbers are based on the release of the U.S. Census Bureau data which was collected in 2014, and released earlier this month.  In all law-related jobs, the median pay for female workers in 2014 was 51.6 % of the pay of male workers.  This reflects a much larger gap because there is still a disproportionate amount of women holding paralegal and support staff positions and pay in those areas is substantially lower.

Some other interesting data about the inequity of women working in the legal profession are as follows:

  • Female paralegals and legal assistants earned 94% of male paralegal’s pay
  • Female judges, magistrates and other judicial workers earned 71.8% of men’s pay in those occupations
  • Female legal support workers made 73.7% of the pay of male legal support workers.

Fusion also reported on the large gap in both law and business.  The article quotes Laura Bellows, the past president of the ABA, who expressed the challenges that women face in the “eat what they kill” motto of winning business because they are more likely to work part-time. Bellows also told Fusion that women face challenges in negotiating higher salaries. “Are women good negotiators? Yes,” Bellows said. “But women are often labeled as greedy and aggressive and not team driven when asking for a well-deserved raise and bonus. Men who ask are viewed as strong and good negotiators hard workers worthy of consideration for an increase.”

So what is the takeaway from this new wave of dismal statistics?  All women lawyers need to be aware  of the statistics above not just for themselves, but for the women surrounding them.  While there are plenty of female lawyers that are flourishing, the average woman lawyer is still making 77% of their male counterpart. This is just plain unacceptable.  We owe it to ourselves to care  about this issue, whether or not it personally affects us, because this is an issue for all women lawyers. It will take a collective response from all women in law to demand equal pay, and until we can stand united, nothing will change.

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