Gender Pay Gap in UK Law Firms

Gender Pay

The gender pay gap has always been a topic of interest and to increase awareness and improve pay equality, the UK government introduced compulsory reporting of the gender pay gap for organisations with 250 or more employees by April 2018.  This means these companies need to publish details of the pay gap between their male and female employees.  For the UK, the gap has reduced in the last 10 years, however it still does favour men.


The gender pay gap is defined as the difference in median pay between men and women. The Office for National Statistics headline measure for the gender pay gap is calculated as the difference between median gross hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for men and women as a proportion of median gross hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for men. But crucially this measure does not consider equal pay for equal work.


This article will discuss the gender pay gap within in the law industry.


Whilst women make up almost half of lawyers entering the legal profession in the UK, this trend does not carry through to more senior levels. At partnership level in the UK, only around 25% are women, and this is even less for magic circle firms, with women representing 19%.


You may have already seen a few headlines in the media reporting internal pay gaps at individual firms. The initial reports are showing a clear difference between the earnings of male and female staff.   Reports show that female staff members at law firms earn up to 39% less than their male counterparts.


Firms are claiming that the differences in pay are skewed by the proportion of women working in less well paid secretarial or support roles or who are working part time. While they may not appear much worse than the national average, which is 18%, they do not reveal the full picture, as they do not include data about partners.


With April 4th just two months away, firms are still releasing their gender pay statistics and it is looking likely this new legislation will pave the way for a representative legal profession and help bridge the pay gap between men and women.


Whether you are male or female, if you feel underpaid or undervalued in your current role, please contact Michael Niven at MJN Legal for a confidential chat about expected salary levels and the legal market.