Important, sobering, essential analysis done by ALM. Thank you, Kayla McCaleb, Patrick Fuller, and team. Change is needed. Yesterday. Thank you, Patrick Smith, for the wonderful chat today and for including my reactions in this coverage.
McCaleb said she was also disappointed, but not surprised, to find that even as salaries for chiefs and first-chair directors went up across all firm size segments, men were the beneficiaries of the majority of those gains.
“Probably the single most shocking finding for me was that despite the overall average annual salary increased by a stable 11% in each of those versions, the pay gap between men and women increased by 50% from 2018 to 2020 and 40% from 2020 to 2022—both of those percentages being substantially higher than the 11% overall average salary increase,” McCaleb said via email. “In 2018, men out-earned women by $50,000. In 2020, that number increased to $75,000. Now in 2022, $105,000 separates men and women chiefs and first chair directors. It just makes me wonder what that wage gap is going to look like in 2024.”
Although this pay gap exists, for most firms, it is not an intentional or malicious decision to pay women less, according to several observers. Yet, here we are, and good intentions and happy thoughts don’t fix problems.
Roy Sexton is the director of marketing for Clark Hill in Detroit and the 2023 Legal Marketing Association International President. He has been in the legal industry for over a decade.
He believes there are a series of factors that play into creating these gaps, ranging from retrograde thinking on women’s role in the workplace to how marketing and business development are viewed in the legal industry.
“There are those of us who may have felt, at our core, that we are not wanted,” Sexton said. “Historically, some organizations have treated women, as well as people of color and the LGBTQ community, that they should feel grateful to be there.”
He said this thinking perpetuates behaviors such as not asking for a raise or a larger bonus because one doesn’t want to rock the boat and be replaced by someone who can be counted on to not do so.
“We need to arm people with negotiation skills and the fortitude to walk away from a job that is underpaying them,” he said. “But there is fear, perpetuated by that ‘grateful’ mindset, that they won’t find another job. So they just accept where they are.” …
Patrick Fuller, vice president and general manager and another author of the study, said, “Over the past decade, law firms’ concerted efforts to improve diversity and inclusion amongst FTE attorneys produced steady year-over-year improvements. As the marketing and business development compensation survey data shows, law firms must also focus on compensation equity for business professionals. It is beyond unacceptable that women comprise 75% of large- and mid-market chiefs or first-chair directors, yet earn, on average, 30% less than their male counterparts.”