It is time to revisit pay equity for women lawyers. In this Buzzfeed article, you will read about a recently filed discrimination class action suit alleging pay inequity. I take no position on the merits of the disputes described in this article. My reason for including the article is that the issues you need to be familiar with are described well there.
I know that many of you think this never could happen to you at your firm. You feel that you are being treated well and fairly in your current position, and the kinds of things described in this article are the furthest things from your mind. This is how that sense of false security was described in the article:
“[W]omen lawyers often do well early in their careers. They now outnumber male students in law school, and men and women are recruited in nearly equal numbers by top firms.
But even though men and women attorneys bill roughly the same amount of hours, men are on average paid more at every level of their careers, according to a National Association of Women Lawyers survey. In 2007, women made up 16% of equity partners among survey respondents. By 2017, that percentage only rose to 19% — evidence that the glass ceiling is holding.”
Do not take anything for granted. Become familiar with the issues and what to look for. And, if you experience pay inequity, do not let an unsatisfactory situation languish. Once you see a pattern of behavior that shows no signs of improving, take action. Upon reading the article, you may conclude that the plaintiff in this lawsuit waited too long to act. Too long to leave and too long to seek redress.
To learn more about the issues of pay inequity, I encourage you to read or reread my article in the DC Women’s Bar magazine. As stated in that article, both women lawyers and law firms have their work cut out for them on this issue:
“It is time for some real soul searching in law firms as they look to the future of the profession. Tolerating implicit gender bias and gender pay inequity will create adversity within the law firm ranks and increased competition among team members. It will discourage camaraderie and will undermine best practices. It also will have a negative effect on law firm succession plans as mid-level talented women lawyers leave because of unfair and unwise practices.
Always remember: You have value. You are worthy. You must learn how to protect yourself.