Gender Pay Gap in the Legal Sphere? Not in the US

Gender Pay Gap in the Legal Sphere? Not in the US

Acritas’ new legal spend report reveals globally men to be earning 26% more than women in equivalent in-house chief legal roles, but in the US women can expect to earn the same for equivalent roles.

Acritas’ Patterns in Legal Spend reports are drawn from the Sharplegal survey, which interviews 2,000+ senior legal buyers in $1 billion+ revenue organizations across the world. This latest report focuses on remuneration for chief legal roles and how this differs by industry, country, size of business and size of legal spend. Acritas has also looked at differences by age and gender.

As in so many occupations, it seems women are being short-changed at the top of corporate legal departments. Women are under-represented in the highest paid, over-50’s age group and in some higher-paying sectors such as Pharmaceuticals and Energy, whilst being over-represented in other industries offering below-average remuneration such as Technology, Media and Telecommunications and the public sector.

According to Acritas, men working in senior in-house legal positions are typically paid 26% more than their female counterparts around the world. However, when Acritas delved deeper into this trend in key geographic markets it discovered female chief legal roles earn the same as male peers in the US.

Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO at Acritas commented: “The difference in salary levels globally is perhaps not surprising, given the same issue exists in many other industries. However, for a profession which is based on ensuring fairness and equal treatment, any gulf in reward levels seems disappointing. Our results show the US legal sector is offering compensation parity. That must give much needed hope to their peers in countries still lagging behind in terms of gender equality.”

Acritas also reports that in-house counsel earn considerably less than partners in private practice.

Its Sharplegal data has been considered alongside Acritas Stars data to compare the remuneration of chief legal roles with that of partners in law firms. Acritas Stars is a database of approximately 8,000 client-nominated stand-out lawyers, over 900 of whom have provided their remuneration data as part of the annual Acritas Stars survey.

This analysis has shown, consistent with other similar studies, that in-house counsel are earning considerably less than their counterparts in private practice. Ms Hart Shepherd added: “Even taking into account the fact that Acritas Stars are likely to be above-average earners within their firms, the difference is striking across all regions and demographic breaks.”

(Source: Acritas)