Yesterday, the ABA Journal reported that the pay gap between male and female partners at big law continues to widen. According to the article, in 2010, female partners earned 24 percent less than their male counterparts whereas in 2018, female partners earned 35 percent less. Why am I not surprised?
Some attribute male/female pay gaps to lack of negotiating skills, others fault firms male partners for not passing clients on to women in the firm. Still others blame simple biology: women tend to start having children right around the time that they’ve gained more experience and grown qualified to take on more responsibility.
I know that the ABA and other groups are working to achieve gender parity with firms. But there’s also another solution: just leave. The study cited by the ABA shows that female partners who have lateralled to other firms experienced a 40 percent boost in pay. No wonder. When lawyers lateral, they take ownership of clients to bring them to another firm where they can set the rules for compensation.
Or, lawyers could take the ownership concept to extremes and break away and start their own firms. Here’s an example of a woman, Dawn Knepper who left biglaw after suing for gender discrimination, then started her own shop. In fact, here are ten examples of women who left biglaw to launch their own practices. You can match your biglaw earnings and more. But even if you don’t, at least you won’t face gender discrimination every day at the law firm of you.
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