Law Life

Why Are Older Female Attorneys Leaving Law?
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Summary: A new study has found that older female attorneys are quitting their jobs.

The legal field has a reputation of being a boy’s club, but what’s the reason for that? Looking at law schools, there is an almost equal number of men and women in the classes, so what happens once those bright eyed people go into the real world? A study conducted by ALM Intelligence said that the reason men dominate the field is because women slowly trickle out. Their exits happen at all stages and in small enough numbers that the loss of women is as unnoticeable as an Irish goodbye.

  
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According to Vivian Chen of The Careerist, only 18% of equity partners are women and women make up only 8% of the elite lawyers with salaries of $500,000/a year or more. Professor Joan Williams of UC-Hastings said that women may be leaving law because they are frustrated by the pay inequality.

“Women lawyers in their fifties are really upset about compensation,” Williams said. “They have the sense that men and women are not treated fairly.”

This sense of unfairness is backed up by recent data from Major, Lindsey & Africa that found that male partners on average make $949,000/a year while female partners are paid $659,000/a year on average. That equates to women partners making 69 cents for every male partner’s dollar.

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The ALM Intelligence study found that women quit law at all ages and that the percentage of older lawyers is significantly smaller than their younger peers.

“What is known is that women do not leave the law disproportionately at a specific time in their lives or careers,” Nicholas Bunch of ALM Intelligence said. “The analysis of ALM’s Rival Edge database below reveals that women trickle out of Big Law by a few percentage points per year of age. The analysis shows that among 30-year-old lawyers at Big Law firms, women comprise 45 percent. Among lawyers who are 40 years old, however, women only comprise 41 percent, a decrease of 4 percentage points. By age 50, women only make up 27 percent of the lawyers, a change of 14 percentage points.”



Credit: Rival Edge

Credit: Rival Edge

Paula Monopoli, a law professor at the University of Maryland, said that women quit after years in the field because they get tired of fighting stereotypes against women.

“They just get worn down faster than men,” Monopoli said. “It’s not like making partner solves all the implicit bias. It can actually become more pronounced when you have fewer women in your cohort.”

A common reason cited on why women are paid less is that they value family, and this leads to them not travelling as much, not working as long of hours, or taking long periods of time off—all actions that are not viewed favorably by law firms. Additionally, the gender study conducted by Major, Lindsey & Africa found that women on average bring in $1.7 million worth of business, while men bring in $2.6 million. The amount of business is one justification for salary, and this could explain the gender pay gap with some firms. All in all, whatever the reasons, the fact remains that women are leaving law.

Source: The Careerist

Why do you think older female attorneys leave law firms? Let us know in the comments below. 



 

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