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Dollars & sense for women lawyers

On average, a female equity partner in a law firm earns $87,000 a year less than a male equity partner, according to figures released today by the National Association of Women Lawyers.

NAWL says its 3rd annual survey is the only national study of American Lawyer’s AmLaw 200, a survey of the nation’s 200 largest law firms, that tracks the progress of women lawyers at all levels of private practice.

The data suggest that women have the most leverage when they make a lateral move, not when they try to climb the firm ladder.

Two-thirds of the new women equity partners in the survey sample were laterals, and 31 percent of all new equity partners were recent laterals, giving the lie to the “traditional notion that largely homegrown attorneys are promoted to equity partner,” according to the NAWL press release.

Although the evidence indicates that more recent women law graduates are being promoted to equity partner at “a somewhat greater rate … even in the best of circumstances, women are promoted to equity partner at only about half the rate as men.”

For a young female lawyer, the moral of the story may be: Develop your own book of business and then bargain your way out and up.
By Deborah Elkins

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