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No gender parity in UK lawyers’ income until 2021

Male lawyers receive 66 per cent higher bonuses than women, survey finds

12 June 2015

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Women lawyers in the UK earn 24 per cent less than their male counterparts on average, research has found.

The survey of more than 2,500 lawyers also found that three quarters of men receive bonuses, compared to 58 per cent of women. In addition, bonuses for male lawyers are 66 per cent higher than women's.

"Earning equality between the genders in junior legal positions is widely accepted, with firms across the board having set rates for trainees and newly-qualified associates. However, it is no secret that pay further up the ladder has been subject to a significant gender imbalance over the years," said Chris Cayley, EMEA managing director at Laurence Simons, which conducted the research.

"We are now operating in a fiercely competitive global legal market and we need to keep working on eliminating the pay gap or risk losing talented people."

The gap between the total compensation of male and female lawyers is narrowing at an average rate of four per cent a year.

Between 2012/13 and 2014/15, the gender gap in total compensation fell from 32 per cent to 24 per cent. On this trajectory, salaries should reach parity by 2021.

Men enjoy average bonuses of £38,400, compared to £23,200 for women.

However, female lawyers' salaries have grown by five per cent on average in the past year to £119,600. This follows a three per cent increase between 2012/13 and 2013/14.

In terms of basic salaries, female lawyers have also received a raise of three per cent annually, with the average climbing to £96,400 in 2014/5.

By contrast, male lawyers' salaries have fallen. Total packages decreased for the third year in a row, falling two per cent to £157,000 this year.

This has been driven by a two per cent drop in the size of the average male lawyers' basic salary to £118,600 over the past 12 months.

Although men's basic salaries have fallen marginally, their bonuses have increased by 20 per cent in 2014/15.

Changing positions

The research found that male and female lawyers have similar motivations when looking to change jobs.

For 30 per cent of men and 29 per cent of women, enhanced prospects for career progression was the main reason for leaving their last position.

In addition, 14 per cent of male lawyers and 13 per cent of female lawyers reported changing roles in order to boost their work-life balance.

"There has long been a myth in many professional environments that women are more likely to seek a better work-life balance than men," commented Cayley.

"Our research has shown this is a stereotype without basis, when in truth both sexes are equally focused on finding a role that offers their career development the biggest boost whilst allowing for a healthy work-life balance."



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