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A recent study, called “After the JD” and sponsored by groups such as the American Bar Foundation, National Association for Law Placement and the National Conference of Bar Examiners, is following 5,000 young lawyers for 10 years. A preliminary report of lawyers two to three years into their careers has yielded one striking finding so far: Women in the study are earning an average of $66,000, while men are earning $80,000. The difference is explained in part by the tendency of women to go into lower-paying fields, such as government and public interest work. And there’s some good news: In the 101- to 250-lawyer firms, women slightly outearn men. But otherwise, across the board, the figures for women were lower than for men of the same age and seniority. In firms of fewer than 100 lawyers, the pay was $90,000 for women and $100,000 for men; in public interest jobs, $37,750 for women and $48,000 for men; and for women in business, $65,000 compared with $87,000 for men. The whole report is available online. What’s going on here? I, like many others, would have predicted that the salaries of men and women would have been more aligned. The figures are especially surprising considering the vast success of women in the past generation. The summary of the study, in the American Bar Foundation’s fall 2004 special issue of “Researching Law,” hints at some of the problems. Women record lower levels of satisfaction relating to their job setting, social interaction and the “power track” — compensation and advancement. They report more discriminatory treatment than do men, and are more likely to consider new employment. Also, they have different networking patterns. Men are more likely to hang out with the partners for drinks and write for legal publications; women are more likely to join the recruitment committee. The “After the JD” study is ongoing, and more theories will crop up about its findings. I would like to suggest some likely reasons, and the lessons women might consider taking away. Women aren’t as likely to negotiate for higher salaries. Men are more likely to push back during negotiations, while women are more likely to take the offer. Lesson: Women need to be more conscious of available options and not assume that the offer or raise is the end of the story; it’s only the beginning. Women don’t tout their accomplishments as much as men do. One often hears women say they don’t like to toot their own horn, while the observation is that men are more inclined to do so. The problem is that in busy practices, people simply won’t magically know what colleagues are up to, and won’t have the time or inclination to find out. And simply keeping your head down and working hard is not enough to ensure success. Lesson: Get comfortable with ways to advise people of your accomplishments. Men get ahead by drinking with power brokers. People give work to people they know and trust. If partners have hung out with men more, they will know and like them better, and think of them when it comes to giving out work. This directly translates, when review time comes, to higher dollars, due to higher exposure and better work. Lesson: Women need to be more proactive in getting to know movers and shakers at work. Often, it’s who you know rather than what you know that spurs success. Women are thinking ahead about work/life balance. They are more likely to plan their careers with family concerns in mind. Thus they may determine that they won’t think about, for instance, M&A work, and instead focus on lower-key practices. Although this may work out well during times when family concerns predominate, this factor might get too much attention. Lesson: When determining your specialization, enter practice areas you like, and have work/life balance be a concern, but not the only concern. There are doubtless other reasons for this state of affairs, including that men still are viewed more as breadwinners (requiring more money) than are women. Nonetheless, it is disturbing that such a major pay gap exists so early in people’s careers. We’ll look forward to further findings from this study and hope even more causes are illuminated, so we can look toward solutions. English, of counsel at Post, Polak, Goodsell, MacNeill & Strauchler in Roseland, N.J., concentrates on employment law and is the author of “Gender on Trial: Sexual Stereotypes and Work/Life Balance in the Legal Workplace,” ALM, 2003.

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