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Bar News - August 17, 2012


Gender Equality Training: Close-up Look at Session 1: Remedying Pay Inequities

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The 2009 NH Bar Association Gender Equality Committee (GEC) survey measured the ten-year time frame since the NHBA GECís last survey. It showed a "definitive wage gap" in both starting salaries and annual salaries between female and male attorneys.

The GEC is attempting to address persisting issues in gender discrimination in the profession through education. The GECís four-part training initiative is designed to address the serious issues raised in the 2009 survey, with the first session focusing on gender differences in the NH legal community as reflected in salaries and bonuses, opportunities for advancement, equity and non-equity partnerships, and perceptions about lawyersí future careers.

It is the hope of the GEC that furthering an understanding of this data will lay the foundation for participants to review, rethink and restructure employment practices at law firms, courts and state agencies to comply with state and federal law and to enable these employers to attract, encourage and retain the talented female lawyers who are now leaving law practice early and in large numbers.

Compensation and Valuation

The 2009 survey showed, "a definitive wage gap" in both "starting salaries and annual salaries between female and male attorneys. For women, salaries remain in five figures, men in six figures. Controlled for years of experience in practice, men still earned six figures to womenís five- figure salaries.

Differences in Hourly Billing Rates

The survey showed that menís hourly billing rates averaged $225 compared to $190 for women. The survey cross-tabulated results by comparing average salaries of attorneys with children.

Add one or more children to the employee profile and the disparity continued.

Menís hourly rate was $239 and womenís was $206.

Partnership Opportunities

In firms with 10 or more lawyers, 82.9 percent of men with 10-plus years of practice experience were equity or non-equity partners. In the same firms, 60 percent of women with 10 plus years of practice were equity or non-equity partners. Catalyst.org predicts that at the current rate, partnership parity between women and men without active intervention will not be realized until 2086.

Perceptions and Truth

Many more women respondents than men in the survey said they believed they had been passed over for work assignments or business opportunities because of assumptions about how family commitments might limit them.

The survey also showed that in NH, the key management and decision-making positions regarding hiring, compensation, case assignments, billing rates, advancement and partnership are occupied, with few exceptions, by men.

Two-thirds of the law employers in the survey did not offer part-time attorney work. Only 6.5 percent of NH firms offered some form of part-time partnership track. Fifty-five percent permitted flexible work schedules and 26 percent allowed telecommuting.

Workshop Series Objectives

  • Examine current practices to see whether they are in compliance with equal pay laws;
     
  • Get the "big picture" from a regional and national perspective;
     
  • Hear how other professionals are changing their culture to retain talented women lawyers whose work is valued, rewarded and fairly compensated.

Trainers with a Passion

The trainers for this first session are Jacqueline Cooke and Evelyn Murphy.

Headquartered in Boston, Jacqueline Cooke is the U.S. Department of Labor Womenís Bureau Regional Administrator for the six New England states and brings both a New England and national perspective to this initiative.

She is responsible for creating programs and implementing national policy. She develops educational programs and demonstration projects in partnership with employers, educational institutions, labor unions, and community organizations on issues of concern to working women including economic security, financial literacy, nontraditional occupations, the emerging green economy, careers in science, engineering, math, and technology, and work/life integration.

Cooke holds a Bachelorsí Degree in Political Science from Tufts University and a Masters Degree in Industrial Relations from the University of Wisconsin.

She will speak about the Equal Pay Act of 1963, The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and the National Equal Pay Enforcement Taskforce, which is an intergovernmental collaboration with the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Office of Personnel Management, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Womenís Bureau also has partnered with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the EEOC to host outreach and education events on equal pay and resources available to eliminate the sex-based pay gap.

An "Equal Pay App Challenge" was initiated by the Womenís Bureau and OFCCP in an effort to equip smartphone and web applications that would put tools in usersí hands. The winner was announced on Equal Pay Day in April, 2012.

Evelyn Murphy is President of The WAGE Project, Inc. a national, grassroots activist organization dedicated to eliminating the gender wage-gap. Author of Getting Even: Why Women Donít Get Paid Like Men and What to Do About It, published by Simon and Schuster in 2005, Murphy launched The WAGE Project, Inc., to eliminate the gender wage-gap by enabling every woman in American to be paid what she is worth. WAGE seeks to accomplish its mission primarily by providing women with the resources, information, tools and strategies to get paid fairly.

WAGE operates entrepreneurially. The group introduces salary negotiation workshops into established institutions demonstrating to them the exceptional impact of the workshop. They gain a commitment to incorporate the workshop into the institutionís routine programming.

WAGE offers Work$mart workshops to working women to achieve fair pay for the jobs they have and jobs they seek. After pilots in Massachusetts, WAGE has introduced this workshop in community organizations like the YWCA and womenís professional organizations.

WAGE is intentionally nimble, easily collaborating with institutions, complementary nonprofits, and government agencies to accomplish the mission.

Murphy earned a BA from Duke University in mathematics; an MA in economics from Columbia University; and a PhD in economics from Duke University. From 1975-1978, she served as Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs with responsibility for setting the stateís environmental policy and line management of 5,000 employees; and Secretary of Economic Affairs from 1983-1986, with responsibility for the stateís economic policies, including her initiative to develop businesses engaged in biotechnology, marine sciences and photovoltaics.

In 1986, Murphy was elected Lieutenant Governor in Massachusetts, becoming the first woman in the stateís 200-year history to hold constitutional office. Prior to that, no woman had ever been elected Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Auditor, or United States Senator in the Commonwealth.

Why Employers Should Attend

Representatives of firms, NH courts and state government who attend all four training sessions will be awarded Certificates of Completion from the NH Bar Associationís Gender Equality Committee. The certificate can be used in a firm, court or state agencyís diversity initiative and in its recruitment and retention of attorneys. The initiative is strongly supported by the NH Bar Association Board of Governors.

Visit the Gender Equality Initiative web page for more on upcoming programs.

Joni N. Esperian is a member of the NHBA Gender Equality Committee and is executive director of the NH Human Rights Commission.

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