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Big Data reveals big gender inequality in Big Law + infographic

Sky Analytics, a provider of legal spend management software for corporate legal departments, announced today the release of the first ever gender study based on actual billings from law firms. The study casts light on stark inequalities between men and women in the legal profession.

The study analyzes law firm invoices collected by Sky Analytics from corporate legal departments with annual legal spend ranging from $1 million to $1 billion. The data set spans over $3.4 billion in legal spend across over 40,000 attorneys and timekeepers and over 3,000 law firms in the U.S.

Dr. Silvia Hodges Silverstein_high res“In light of the recent Pay Equality bill signed by President Obama, we decided to analyze the Sky Analytics’ database to see if we could cast light on any gender disparities in the legal market,” said Dr. Silvia Hodges-Silverstein (pictured), Vice President of Strategic Market Development at Sky Analytics.  “We were surprised not only by the pay inequity, but also the staffing and role biases.”

Key findings of the study include:

•      Female partners earn an average 10% lower billable rate versus their male counterparts.  This pay inequality is especially pronounced in the Mountain and South Central regions of the U.S. where rate disparity rises to 16% and 20% respectively.

•      Women are billed at significantly lower rates per hour than men, no matter what size of firm.  The average female partner’s hourly rate is $47 less per hour or 10% less than her male colleague’s ($426 vs. $473) at top tier firms. The difference is even more significant at smaller firms where female partners are billed at $64 less per hour or 12% less than males at ($498 vs. $562).

•      Virtually no women are billed at over $1,000 per hour compared to 2% of men in top tier firms.  While 6% of all male lawyers bill over $800, only 2% of female lawyers bill over $800.  Furthermore, 51% of men in top tier firms charge over $500 per hour, compared to 31% of women in the same tier.

•      The differences in pay start early.  At top tier firms, the average hourly rate of a female associate is $27 less per hour than her male colleague’s ($377 vs. $404).  At smaller firms, 30% of women charge less than $150 per hour compared to 22% of men.

•      Female roles tend to be skewed towards entry-level positions.  While 75% of paralegals are female and 46% of associates are female, only 22% of partners are female.

•      Based on invoice task codes, there are specific “female” jobs and “male” jobs. Only four jobs were “female” jobs (>50% female): word processing (UTBMS code E103); fact investigation/fact development (L110); depositions (L330); and “other” (P280). By comparison, 177 jobs were “male” jobs: Juror research (Me210); Discovery On-Site Inspections (L360), International Patent Prosecution (PA600), Operations (B200), and Hosting Costs (L651) are most likely to be done by a man.

•      Write offs among paralegals is very high, but worse for females (only 28% “bill-through”) than males (41%). Male associates experience the highest flow-through as they bill through 74% of the time (only 26% write-offs). They are followed by male partners, who bill through 69% of their time. Female associates bill through 68% of their time, more than female partners (63%). As a result of the failure to bill through female paralegal time, overall only 59% of female time is billed through versus 66% of male time.

•      Female partners bill 24 minutes per day more than male partners. Male and female associates bill about the same number of hours per day, while female paralegals bill 121 minutes (or 22%) less than male paralegals.

•      Male Partners work 13% more on the weekends (7.8% for males vs. 6.9% for females). Among all roles, male paralegals work 38% more on the weekend compared to their female counterparts (8.2% for male versus 5.6% for females).

•      Women tend to work on smaller matters.  Only 7% of large matters (>20 person teams) are staffed with mostly females (i.e. women make up more than 50% of time keepers), compared to 81% of small cases, defined as less than 5 time keepers per matter.

Here’s an infographic and the complete study can be downloaded here