In the June issue of the ABA Journal, ABA President Laura Bellows talked about the gender pay inequity in the legal profession, comparing today with 50 years ago when President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act. The difference is 77 cents now vs. 59 cents then. And even today, Ms. Bellows says “(f)emale equity partners in the 200 largest firms … earn 89% of the compensation of their male peers. Not long ago, one of my clients experienced that very same bias, causing her to leave the large firm and open her own shop. Immediately, her income doubled.
But the President’s Message contained a new perspective for me. She said that unequal pay is a family issue, not just a gender issue, that affects families and retirement capabilities of husband/wife, father/mother and the well-being of everyone in the family. And the competition among colleagues is not of male and female, but of lawyer and lawyer. Gender is no longer a fair differentiation within the firm contest.
I’m becoming more sensitive to this issue as I plan for our LawBiz® Practice Management Institute scheduled for April 4th and 5th, 2014, in Santa Monica, CA. Join me and my co-anchor, Rebecca Torrey, an equity partner and member of the Executive Committee of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, as we focus on management challenges faced by women lawyers in today’s profession.