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Bar News - December 13, 2013

Gender Equality Committee Offers Negotiation Skills Training

WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 23, 1 to 4 p.m. (Snow date Jan. 30)

WHERE: NH Bar Center, Concord

COST: Attorneys $50, attorneys (unemployed) $35, third-year law students $25
**No NHMCLE credit**
The NH Bar Association’s Gender Equality Committee is bringing nationally recognized author and workplace expert Lauren Rikleen to New Hamphsire on Jan. 23 for a one-day training on negotiation skills, as part of its continuing series on pay equality.

The session, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bar Center, is open to all members of the New Hampshire Bar Association and to third-year law students. (It is not eligible for NHMCLE credit.)

The training session will focus on developing the skills necessary for successful negotiating, including what you need to know before you begin a salary, bonus, or promotion negotiation. The session will also cover:
• Analyzing power dynamics and finding the best timing for beginning the discussion;
• Positioning yourself to get the best work assignments;
• How to be paid more fairly;
• Negotiating for flexible work arrangements;
• Advocating for yourself if you are unfairly excluded from opportunities; and
• Negotiating for credit (e.g. as billing or relationship attorney in a firm or for recognition in another workplace setting).
Rikleen was a featured speaker in the GEC’s four-part training last year on eliminating gender bias in recruiting, mentoring, evaluating, and promoting women. This year, the GEC hosted a round table discussion at the 2013 Annual Meeting in Portsmouth to discuss specific next steps, which included addressing salary disparities between men and women by improving negotiation skills.

As we learned in the training workshops last year, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Studies show men are significantly more likely to negotiate than women. The pay disparity tends to start early. Ruling out differences in age, education level, and work experience, men use negotiation to promote their own interests far more often than women do. This finding has serious implications for women.

Left unchecked, the gender pay disparity that starts small with a first-year associate can transform into a significant pay disparity as the woman nears partner. By one estimate, pay disparity between men and women can be as high as $7 million dollars over a lifetime. While this effect is bad for women, it also can expose employers to claims of gender discrimination.

The Equal Pay Act, which is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women working in the same establishment who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions.

This concept of “pay for the position,” rather than “pay for the person” is not new. The lack of adherence to this principle was identified in the GEC’s workshops as a barrier to solving the problem of pay disparity. Experts in the hiring and recruiting field know the importance of defining the job; which when done, eliminates gender considerations.

Given that the GEC’s 1987, 1997, and 2009 surveys show continued disparity in salaries in our legal profession, holding a training session on negotiating skills seemed a logical and concrete way to help our profession eliminate salary disparities and avoid claims of gender discrimination.

The stakes are high with pay disparity. Women accumulating disadvantages on the job by not negotiating, failing to advocate for themselves when they perceive they are being unfairly excluded from opportunities, or when they see their male peers receiving better assignments and bigger raises, may decide to leave the profession. Turnover is expensive in a law firm. If we cannot find ways to attract, retain, and promote qualified women, we lose valuable talent and we lose revenue that would be generated by these women if they stayed in the profession.

National organizations are also working to mitigate the problem of pay disparity. The American Bar Association has developed a toolkit to address gender equity in partner compensation. Universities such as Harvard and Carnegie Mellon have negotiation academies for women. Evelyn Murphy, founder of the WAGE Project, and speaker at GEC’s workshop on remedying pay inequities, offers negotiation training.

Rikleen has written extensively on this issue and the strategies she teaches in her negotiation training programs are backed by measureable success. Whether you are recently admitted or are a seasoned practitioner, you won’t want to miss this informative program.

Learn more.

Marcia A. Brown is a member of the NHBA Gender Equality Committee.

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