CBA WLF initiative to study gender based compensation

  • October 16, 2018

Data from the U.S. consistently shows that male lawyers earn more than their female counterparts. Meanwhile in Canada … there is no comprehensive data, so it’s impossible to know with any certainty the state of the gender divide in partner compensation.

Enter the Women Lawyers Forum. The WLF has received a Law for the Future Fund grant to engage an independent polling company to survey firms with more than 50 lawyers operating in Canada (more than 70 firms) to provide some sort of baseline statistics about trends in compensation equity.

The results obtained through the CBA WLF Partner Compensation Survey, which will be put in the field by Bramm Research, will be provided by firms, and not individual lawyers. Raw data provided by the firms will be confidential – neither the CBA nor the WLF will have access to that information.

While the CCCA has done surveys for corporate compensation, there is no comparable Canadian data for private law firms.

Sandra Appel is the Chair of the Partner Compensation Survey Committee, which has members from WLF branches across the country. CBA President Ray Adlington is also working with the WLF on the initiative.

“The survey information should be of value and interest to firms in setting compensation; to the CBA in advancing its strategic directive to guide the profession toward a future that is in step with emerging trends, needs and opportunities, and to the Women Lawyers Forum in pursuing its mandate to promote equality and equity in the legal profession in Canada,” the WLF said in its LFFF grant application.

“This proposal will provide new information about law firm partner compensation by gender and identify some of the criteria that may affect compensation and contribute to gender differences in compensation.”

The survey, the WLF adds, will “be a first step towards understanding and addressing the issues that may underlie the anticipated differentiation.”

The survey will seek information as to the gender identity of each partner, whether they are income or equity partners, the income percentage of that partner in comparison to the percentage of all partners in the firm, and certain factors that may affect each partner’s respective compensation.

The initiative will begin in October. The data will be collected and analyzed, with a final report expected in the spring of 2019.