Compensation is where the rubber meets the road

As in most law firms, compensation systems is where governance and other issues are expressed.

In a recent matter, a female partner claims that Dewey & LeBoeuf, a law firm that has received diversity awards, discriminates against women. She asserts that women partners receive less compensation than men in the firm.

The firm’s partner distribution system is apparently based on origination, not just billable work. This is the case in many firms. What do you do, however, when “the old boy network” was created years ago, when women were not major law firm players, and there is no “sunset” provision in the firm for compensation? Seemingly, this would entrench old relations as the basis for current compensation … and allow little or no access to women, to younger lawyers, and to other diverse groups in the firm.

Firms unwilling to look anew at their compensation culture will continue to face challenges from within as well as pressures from clients from without.

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