“Gender equality still has a way to go.” Study reveals junior lawyers’ perspective.

The new generation of lawyers wants a better work life balance while gender equality continues to be an issue in the market, according to an Eversheds report.

Eversheds summarised the findings of RSG Consulting, which surveyed more than 1,800 lawyers at different ages and career stages. The study found that though women actually earn slightly more than their male counterparts at the very beginning of their career, by the ages of 26-30 they are being outstripped by 10 per cent however, and by 36-39, they earn an average of 25 per cent less. This may be one reason 77 per cent of men said they want to become a partner, compared to 57 per cent of women. “Sexual equality still has a way to go”.

Lawyers older than 27 said the main reason they would move firms is to seek a better work-life balance, “particularly for women”. One concern of young lawyers highlighted by the report was the impact of long and unpredictable working hours on their well-being and life outside of the office. This concern can be heightened by the use of technology in the legal sector, with Blackberries blurring the distinction between work and home.

Unpredictable and long working hours has long been an issue affecting women in law, especially women in more senior positions. The billing culture and pressure on lawyers to account for every hour “regardless of efficiency, or value to the client”, is seen as outdated according to the report “Young lawyers believe innovation is needed”.

Adrienne Cornejo speaking at the GC Diversity Seminar in Miami
Adrienne Cornejo speaking at the GC Diversity Seminar in Miami

 

In a recent GC seminar on diversity, in-house counsels echoed the sentiment; Adrienne Cornejo, vice president and general counsel of Grupo Phoenix, called it “an archaic system” and one that isn’t in the client’s interests.

Eversheds managing partner Lee Ranson said: “It’s important we address these concerns, so the legal profession can continue to attract and retain the brightest talent.”