Men in the legal industry receive average bonuses 66 percent higher than females (£38,400 compared with£23,200), according to the latest research from specialist legal and compliance recruiter Laurence Simons.

The findings also reveal more male lawyers received bonuses than their female counterparts last year, with 75 percent being paid one compared to just 58 percent of women.

However, the gap between the total compensation of male and female lawyers is narrowing at an average rate of 4 percent a year. Between 2012/3 and 2014/5, the gender gap in total compensation fell from 32 percent to 24 percent, meaning that on this trajectory salaries should reach parity by 2021.

Female lawyers have enjoyed a growth of 5 percent in their average annual salaries over the past year, up from £114,100 in 2014 to £119,600 in 2014/15. This builds on an already impressive increase of 3 percent between 2012/13 and 2013/14.  In terms of basic salaries, female lawyers have also seen a rise of 3 percent annually, with the average climbing from £93,200 to £96,400 in 2014/5.

In contrast, male lawyers have seen their salaries fall. Total packages decreased for the third year in a row, falling 2 percent from £160,000 in 2013/4 to £157,000 this year. This has been driven by a fall of 2 percent in the size of the average male lawyers’ basic salary, from £120,500 to £118,600 over the past 12 months. However, bonuses are on the up, increasing for men by 20 percent annually in 2014/15. Whilst basic salaries may be falling marginally, HR departments are reflecting high achievement in the discretionary element.



Chris Cayley, EMEA managing director at Laurence Simons, comments:

Earning equality between the genders in junior legal positions is widely accepted, with firms across the board having set rates for trainees and newly-qualified associates. However, it is no secret that pay further up the ladder has been subject to a significant gender imbalance over the years, and the news that this is closing is only to be welcomed.

“Obviously we still have a long way to go and as arguably the leading jurisdiction for legal services in the world we should be leading not only on the quality of law we practice, our transactions and advice, but also on how we reward the exceptional legal talent we have in the UK. We are now operating in a fiercely competitive global legal market and we need to keep working on eliminating the pay gap or risk losing talented people.”

Dispelling myths

Laurence Simons’ findings also indicate that male and female lawyers possess similar motivations when looking to change jobs. For both sexes, enhanced prospects for career progression were identified as the main reason for leaving their last position, with 30 percent of men and 29 percent of women having sought out a role that would offer them better career development opportunities.

Furthermore the proportion of male and female lawyers who had left their previous job to seek out a better balance between their home lives and their career was also inline. 14 percent of male lawyers and 13 percent of female lawyers reported changing roles in order to boost their work-life balance.

Chris Cayley, continues:

“There has long been a myth in many professional environments that women are more likely to seek a better work-life balance than men. Our research has shown this is a stereotype without basis, when in truth both sexes are equally focused on finding a role that offers their career development the biggest boost whilst allowing for a healthy work-life balance.”