Survey Finds Deep Dissatisfaction Among Women Partners
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A survey of nearly 700 women law firm partners revealed an “intense dissatisfaction” with the compensation gap between men and women.

The study, which was conducted by the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR) and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), found women partners make 22 percent less than men.  That sort of disparity, the report concludes, opens the door to gender bias at firms.

“We knew there was a compensation gap, but we were surprised to find such intense dissatisfaction,” said Joan C. Williams, director of the Project for Attorney Retention.


Fewer than half the women equity partners and roughly one-third of women income- and minority-partners are satisfied with their compensation. An earlier study found that nearly three-quarters of men were.

Several unidentified woman partners are quoted as saying they make about 50 percent less than male partners at their firms.

One gave this account to illustrate the point:

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“It is hard to say that gender is not a factor, when the median compensation for male partners is almost double that of female partners in my department, which is the largest department in a large international law firm. Once bonuses (which are confidential) are factored in, it is my informed belief that women partners in my practice group make less than half as much as the male partners.”

Roughly one-third of the women surveyed reported having been bullied, threatened or intimidated out of origination credit, a key factor in setting compensation. More than half the women reported being denied their fair share of origination credit.

Many survey respondents reported a lack of opportunities to participate in, or to benefit from their participation in, client pitches. Of the women surveyed, over 70% of minority income partners, 58% of minority equity partners, and slightly lower percentages of white partners, reported that they had participated in client pitches that yielded work for their firms — but that they were excluded when the time came to do the work.

Additionally, the survey found that women, who make up 16% of equity partners nationwide, are underrepresented or completely missing from their firms’ compensation committees.



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