Debra Katz Discusses Legal Gender Pay Gap with Law360

October 31, 2016
Debra S. Katz

Katz Banks Kumin partner Debra Katz was quoted in a Law360 article on October 31, 2016, entitled, “Closing the Gap: Women Fight Back Against the Lawyer Pay Divide.” In the article, author Erin Coe discussed the causes of a significant pay gap between male and female attorneys.

Despite graduating from law school in equal numbers to men for over 15 years, women in the law profession remain underrepresented in top-tier firm positions and underpaid compared to their male counterparts. On average, women in U.S. law firms make just 80 percent of male attorneys’ wages. “Last year, while the men were taking hom $629,407, the women were averaging $504,000.” Commenting on the trend, Ms. Katz said, “Despite the diversity of explanations by firms for why women are underpaid relative to men, it all distills to the same thing: a discretionary pay structure and the perception that men are more valuable.”

Maternity leave remains one of the most significant obstacles to pay equity at law firms. Ms. Katz noted that when a female associate at a firm becomes pregnant, partners’ sex stereotypes can lead them to give her fewer assignments and billable hours as well as poor evaluations. “It’s a vicious cycle,” Ms. Katz said. “When partners avoid assigning female attorneys cases that require travel, that will generate many hours and that give opportunities to deepen client relationships, they are depriving women of opportunities for advancement.” The full article is available with subscription here.