The Gender Pay Gap in the Law

The gender pay gap is defined as the difference between the median or mean hourly pay rate that male and female staff receive. In all areas of work, the gender pay gap exists. It has become a more prevalent topic in society due to the frustration of women and it is something that should be acknowledged throughout all workplaces.

With societal shifts and projects that dedicate themselves to supporting women and advocating for equality between the genders, the gender pay gap should be on the fall.


What do women in the legal profession have to say about the gender pay gap in law?


Recent research from Gapsquare and The Next 100 Years project has discovered that 84%of women in law believed that true gender pay equality wouldn’t be achieved in their working life, and a further 29% believed it wouldn’t happen in the next century. Research also shows that all female junior lawyers (at associate, trainee, or pupil level) felt that the gender pay gap was a concern for them. Whilst the gender pay gap has existed through previous generations and does currently exist, in order for there to be progressive change, it is vital that it doesn’t continue into the next generation as the “norm”.

The gender pay gap is a discouraging subject for women throughout legal sector as we can all acknowledge that equal work should result in equal pay. Dana Denis-Smith, founder of the Next 100 years comments “The lack of faith in law firm leadership’s willingness to tackle the gender pay gap is not only alarming for the immediate and future careers of women in the industry but also for the future of the industry itself”.

Employee retention, inclusivity and a genuine attempt to reduce inequalities, especially in the younger generation, has the potential to change employee turnover in the legal sector. Despite it happening, the gender pay gap has no logical reasoning behind it and therefore is an aggravating topic for women and other genders throughout the legal sector and something everyone wants to end.


Statistical evidence


The information obtained about the gender pay gap is shown through either the mean or median hourly rate. The mean pay gap is the difference between the hourly earnings for female and male staff whereas the median pay gap is the difference between the midpoints in the ranges of hourly earnings between female and male staff. Figures from the law society show that the mean pay gap between females and males increased from 2019 to 2020. The percentage in 2019 was 10.6%, which had increased to 13% in 2020. Similarly, the median pay gap increased from 8.3% in 2019 to 11.8% 2020.

However, from 2020 to 2021 the mean pay gap decreased by 1.5% and the median pay gap decreased by 0.6%. The decrease of these figures is of course an achievement and something we should all celebrate however, throughout legal sector the push still needs to be made to eradicate the pay gap altogether. Despite the figures that evidently show the pay gap, 62% of participants in the recent survey said that fixing the gender pay gap is not a priority for senior management in their firm.


What is being done about the gender pay gap and what can we do?


The Law Society and the SRA are commited to reducing the gender pay gap and some of the ongoing measures to address the gender pay gap include; reviewing policies and practices to ensure the workplace environment is one where everyone can flourish, reviewing how women are recruited, retained, and promoted for senior roles and reviews to address any potential gender bias.

However, the question remains: what can we do in our workplaces to ensure the people we work with are aware of, and are actively acting against, the gender pay gap?

A crucial factor is that people in our workplaces are educated and aware of the gender pay gap and its current relevance. There are a multitude of ways to communicate and share knowledge with your own colleagues and colleagues in other workplaces. Through communication we can achieve more education and awareness on the topic.

If we raise awareness of the gender pay gap this in turn highlights the general discrimination that can occur between genders and how our behaviour may contribute to that.

How can Thrive Law help?

As an owner-run company, we know the pains of having to wear many hats and how time is precious. As qualified employment and HR lawyers, we know the consequences of getting HR decisions wrong. We work with you to let you focus on what you need to be doing in the business with the peace of mind that all letters and decisions are run past a qualified lawyer before you implement them.


When you partner with Thrive for outsourced HR support, we can reduce your stress and free you up to work on the business and to make HR decisions with confidence.


With people at the core of every successful business, keeping on top of the ever-changing legislation and making the most out of your people can be challenging, but we are here to help.


We can also support your business in the event an employee approaches ACAS or the employment tribunal.


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Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions at

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