Gender pay gap: female lawyers earn less at every age

Female lawyers outnumber men in New South Wales, however they overall earn less than their male counterpart.

New data from the NSW Law Society has showed that across the board men out-earn women, at every age.

The Society did not collect data on gender-diverse and non-binary solicitors.

Gender pay gap: Women paid less than their male counterparts at every age

Women consistently receive pay less than man regardless of age, years since admission and sector.

The gender pay gap is evident at all ages.

Male respondents admitted as a solicitor in the same year as their female counterparts reported earning more than women in all sectors of practice, including in female dominated sectors.

Women are more likely to be earning between $50,000 to $100,000, whereas men are most likely to be earning between $100,000 to $150,000.

Between 30 and 34 years old, 34 per cent of women said they earn over $150,000, compared to 41 per cent of men.

Female lawyers in NSW: A snapshot of women in law

Women were first allowed to practice law in New South Wales in 1918.

Marie Byles was the first of female lawyers in 1924
Marie Byles became the first female solicitor in 1924

In 1924, New South Wales had their first female solicitor, Marie Byles and Barrister, Sibly Morrison.

In 1970, NSW appointed its first female Local Court Magistrate, and its first woman to sit on the NSW Coroners’ Court.

In 1987, the first woman got an appointment to the High Court, Mary Gaudron.

In 2017, the first female Chief Justice of the High Court was appointed, Susan Kiefel.

In 2017, women first outnumbered men in the NSW legal profession.

Despite landmark moments over the last 100 years, female solicitors are struggling to break the higher ranks, and are paid far less than their male counterparts.

Female solicitors outnumber men everywhere except private practice

Since 2017, female solicitors have outnumbered men, with the growth rate increasing annually.

In 2021, 54 per cent of all solicitors were female.

More women work in corporate and government sectors, compared to their male counterparts.

Seventy-five per cent of male solicitors work in private practice, compared to 62 per cent of women.

Despite dominating the corporate and government sectors, pay disparity is worst in these sectors.

Corporate practice worst for gender pay gap

The largest gender pay gap in the legal sector is within corporate practice.

In the corporate sector, 54% female solicitors with 15 years of more of experience earn more than $200,000, compared to 62% of men.

Out of those with between 6 to 10 years of experience, 54% of women earn over $150,000, compared to 64% of men.

More older men and less women in positions of power

In private practice women are more likely to be employees than a partner or principal. In 2021, 29 per cent of women were partners or principals of a private practice, compared to 54 per cent of men.

There are far less older women in the legal profession then men.

Forty per cent of male lawyers are over the age of 50, compared to 19 per cent of women.

The average age of female solicitors was 39.6 years, compared to 46 years for men.

Civil Solicitor | Website | + posts

Sarah is a civil solicitor who primarily practices in defamation, intentional torts against police, privacy and harassment.

O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors
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p: 02 9261 4281
a: Level 4, 219-223 Castlereagh St,
Sydney NSW 2000

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