The gender pay gap for solicitors has increased with women earning 30% less than men, according to figures released by the Law Society today.

For solicitors in private practice, the gap widened from 27% in 2012 to 30% in 2013. It remained at 28% for those in-house.
The statistics came from the Law Society’s annual earnings factsheet, which is based on a survey of 1,506 randomly selected individual practising certificate holders working in private practice, government and the private sector in-house.
The findings show that men out-earn their female counterparts at each grade in the profession. For assistants and associates the median salary was £50,000 for men and £38,000 for women.

For equity partners, the median earning for women was £60,000, compared with £70,000 for men.

The figures also reveal a racial earnings gap. White men had the highest average earnings – 29% more than their white female counterparts and 25% more than male solicitors from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background (BAME).

Overall average earnings differed by 14% between white and BAME solicitors.

Responding to the figures, Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said while the disparity in pay had many contributory factors, the increase is a ‘worrying trend’ which needs to be addressed by the profession.   

‘A solicitor’s salary should reflect their experience and skills, not their gender. We encourage employers to judge a solicitor on merit rather than on their background or the number of hours clocked up each week,’ said Hudson.
He said: ‘A culture of transparency with salaries, along with a proactive approach to flexible working can narrow the gender pay gap but clearly there needs to be a change of thinking within the profession for this to have a significant impact.’

The Law Society is preparing advice and support for firms on how to address the issue. 

The Society also has a range of initiatives to assist firms with working practices including the Diversity and Inclusion Charter, the Procurement Protocol, a Business Case for Diversity and a Flexible Working Protocol.
More than 400 legal service providers have signed up the Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter, committing to pursue best practice on all aspects of diversity and inclusion across their businesses.