Pay disparity in legal jobs

September 29, 2008
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Women attorneys continue to make less than men.



It doesn’t shock or even surprise me. There’s no disputing that on average, women in all types of professions make less than men, often for doing the same job. It’s been that way for as long as women have been in the workforce.



The U.S. Census Bureau released data from its 2007 American Community Survey showing the disparities in pay between men and women in the legal field. Female attorneys make 77.8 percent of their male counterparts’ salaries; miscellaneous female legal support workers make 72.7 percent of what their male counterparts earn.



According to the data, female judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers make just 64.3 percent of what their male counterparts do. That’s incredibly disappointing, but the numbers have been dragged down because “other judicial workers” includes clerks, who have lower salaries.



On the flip side, paralegals and legal assistants make the closest pay compared to their male counterparts in the profession – 93.2 percent. My theory on this one is that’s because women tend to dominate this legal occupation, so there are fewer men around to make more money.



There are a few theories as to why women continue to make less than men in the legal field. Women may work more flexible schedules and fewer hours to keep up with the demands of being a mom. Maybe fewer women are on the partner track than men because of this disparity.



Frankly, take a look around at the managing partners of law firms around Indiana and the overwhelming majority are men. I’m not trying to accuse them of actively discriminating against women, but they are probably just continuing with the status quo of pay that the law firm has had in place since it began.



Once women start having more leadership roles in firms, perhaps this pay gap will close even more and people will be paid equivalent salaries for equivalent jobs, despite their gender.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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