Gishan Abeyratne
Gishan Abeyratne
Senior Associate: Private Practice

Articles From the Team

Are men and women paid equally?

The question around the gender gap has always been relevant, but it seems that recently it has become more prevalent. With major multinational organisations now releasing information on their gender gaps, there has been some rather drastic call for change to level the playing field, and rightly so. Are men and women treated, regarded, and paid equally? No. Should they be? Yes. Are there exceptions to the rule? Perhaps.

As a specialist legal recruiter I can only approach the subject in relation to the legal profession. So, does the gender gap exist in law? Let’s start with the money.

Back in January of this year, CMS and Shoosmiths were the first two top 50 firms in the UK to publicise their salary data, highlighting (and in part explaining) their gender pay gaps. Following suit were Linklaters and, most recently, Allen & Overy. Without going into great detail, what was clearly highlighted is that, generally speaking, women in the legal profession are earning less than men. Now, before we all start sharpening our pitchforks, let’s consider that there are genuine reasons behind this that are not malicious, anti-feminist or misogynistic. For example, the higher proportion of women in business support roles will naturally sway the salary statistics. Moreover, while it is by no means an absolute that mother’s will return to work part-time, it is statistically such that more women than men work part-time, thus skewing the salary statistic further.

What about opportunity though?

Women make up 48% of all lawyers in the UK. Between 2014 and 2017 the number of female partners in UK law firms rose from 24% to 29% amongst the larger firms (50+ partners) and 33% overall up from 31% in 2014. While these numbers aren’t necessarily staggering, it does show positive change, and some firms are really leading the charge. Take Trowers & Hamlins for example; 42% of their partnership is female.

I find all of this fascinating really. Not much more than 100 years ago it was inconceivable that women would vote, hold political office or any form of employment considered to be the arena of men, which certainly included the legal profession.

Here we are in 2018 and the gender gap does still exist in the legal profession, but thankfully it is closing. All being well, it won’t take the better part of a century.

For more information contact Gishan Abeyratne at BCL Legal.

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