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UK female in-house lawyers ‘satisfied’ with earning less than males

Survey finds equal levels of job satisfaction despite 50 per cent gap in bonus levels

20 March 2014

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Female in-house lawyers continue to earn substantially less than their male counterparts but it has no impact on their level of job satisfaction, according to a survey of the UK legal market.

The research, which was predominantly focused on in-house counsel, found that female lawyers' basic salaries were 29 per cent lower on average than those of male lawyers in 2013, at £93,248 compared to £120,458.

The gap was even higher when it came to bonuses, with women receiving £20,877 on average while men received almost 50 per cent more, at £39,551.

However, the research found that satisfaction with bonuses was almost equal among both genders.

Sixty-five per cent of female lawyers said they were either 'satisfied' or 'highly satisfied' with the bonus they received - only marginally lower than the 66 per cent of men who agreed with this. No information was obtained on levels of satisfaction with basic pay.

"Job satisfaction, security and confidence appear to be fairly equal between the genders despite the pay gap, suggesting that a higher salary comes with its own pressures and doesn't of itself increase job satisfaction," said Chris Cayley, EMEA managing director at legal recruiter Laurence Simons, which conducted the research.

"This is an important point for employers - salary isn't the only way to attract and retain top staff."

The report notes that the pay gap has narrowed by three per cent over the past year from 32 per cent. During this period, men saw total remuneration drop by £2,700, while women received a £2,800 increase on average.

"It is very encouraging that headway is being made to redress the imbalance in pay between the genders," said Cayley.

"The UK is, of course, one of the legal centres for legal services globally and it is essential that this disparity in pay is resolved if we are to attract and retain the cream of legal talent."

Female lawyers also said they felt more secure in their jobs, at 96 per cent, compared with 86 per cent of males.

Optimism about the economy in 2014 was high overall among 67 per cent of male lawyers and 60 per cent of female lawyers.

The survey received responses from 383 UK lawyers (of which 57 per cent were male) between 7 October and 4 November 2013. Among these, 83 per cent of male respondents were in-house lawyers, while 16 per cent were in private practice. Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of female respondents were in-house counsel, while 23 per cent worked in law firms.



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