Spokane Journal of Business

New ABA 'toolkit' promotes gender equity in profession

Women earn 89 percent as much as male peers at nation's top law firms

  • Print Article

ABA President Laurel Bellows and the American Bar Association's Gender Equity Task Force have introduced what they describe as an innovative new tool in the fight for gender equity in the legal profession.

The ABA's Toolkit for Gender Equity in Partner Compensation is to be the first in a series of projects that aims to provide specific tools law firms can use to eliminate pay differences between male and female lawyers.

The toolkit focuses mostly on abolishing inequities at the partner level to first facilitate change where the greatest pay disparity exists. At the median, women equity partners at the country's 200 largest law firms earn 89 percent of the compensation earned by their male peers.

"Unequal compensation diminishes women's prospects for success and unfairly undervalues the material contributions of women to their firms. Plus, pay inequities have a profound effect on a firm's performance and profits," Bellows says. "The ABA has long been committed to equality. We are committed to ensuring that women and men in our profession share the same opportunities and rewards. Inequity in compensation is a problem that we can and must fix."

The toolkit will be distributed to law firms and bar associations across the country to launch a dialogue about fair and transparent compensation systems for partners. The toolkit contains what the ABA describes as all the necessary tools to conduct a summit on this issue.

Ultimately, the toolkit seeks to increase awareness about gender pay inequity and its impacts and train law firm leaders to recognize biases that affect the accuracy of compensation decisions, the organization says.

Law firm leaders also will be encouraged to give credit for all components of firm revenue and activity; select diverse members for compensation committees; and train compensation decision-makers on implicit bias.

With nearly 400,000 members, the ABA claims to be one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the organization works to improve the administration of justice and promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work.

Sign up for our E-mail updates

including the
Morning Edition

Join our list