The gender pay gap persists at the highest levels of management within companies’ legal departments, according to the Association of Corporate Counsel.
Most chief legal officers in 2014 earned $200,000 to 299,999, according to the annual Chief Legal Officer Survey released last week by the District-based trade group that represents 37,000 in-house lawyers in 90 countries. Those who earned above that range were more likely to be male: Nearly 30 percent of male chief legal officers had base salaries of $300,000 or more, compared with 22 percent of female chief legal officers.
Similarly, 38 percent of male chief legal officers had total compensation packages (base salary, plus other benefits) of more than $400,000, while only 26 percent of female chief legal officers crossed that compensation threshold.
The report surveyed 1,289 chief legal officers in 46 countries. Of those respondents, 78 percent worked in offices in the United States. It is the first year the association has broken down pay data by gender in its annual survey.
“Law is like most other professional services industries, in that women tend to be compensated at lower rates than comparable majority males,” said Veta T. Richardson, president of the Association of Corporate Counsel. “We’d like to see those gaps closing.”
Still, there are more women rising to become chief legal officers among a younger generation of lawyers, which Richardson said is a positive change. The percentage of women occupying the chief legal officer role is 12 percentage points higher among Generation X than the baby boomer generation, according to the survey.
Among the 100 largest U.S.-based law firms, 96 percent of firms say that their highest-paid partner is male, the report found.
Female lawyers make about 79 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts — earning $1,566 in median weekly wages compared with $1,986 for men — according to Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2013, the most recent data available. Women make 82 cents on the dollar compared with men among all full-time wage and salary workers, earning $706 in median weekly wages compared with $860 for men.