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Gender Gaps in Performance: Evidence from Young Lawyers

  • Ghazala Azmat
  • Rosa Ferrer

This paper documents and studies the gender gap in performance among associate lawyers in the United States. Unlike other high-skilled professions, the legal profession measures and rewards productivity with objective methods that are widely used and comparable across firms: the number of hours billed to clients and the amount of new client revenue generated. We find clear evidence of a gender gap in annual performance with respect to both measures. Male lawyers bill ten percent more hours and bring in more than twice the new client revenue than do female lawyers. We demonstrate that the differential impact across genders in the presence of young children and differences in aspirations to become a law firm partner account for a large share of the difference in performance. These performance gaps have important consequences for gender gaps in earnings. Whereas individual and firm characteristics explain up to 50 percent of the earnings gap, the inclusion of performance measures explains a substantial share of the remainder.

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Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 604.

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Date of creation: Dec 2014
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:604
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  1. Rosen, Sherwin, 1992. "The Market for Lawyers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 215-46, October.
  2. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  3. de la Rica, Sara & Dolado, Juan J. & Vegas, Raquel, 2010. "Performance Pay and the Gender Wage Gap: Evidence from Spain," CEPR Discussion Papers 7936, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. John S. Heywood & Daniel Parent, 2012. "Performance Pay and the White-Black Wage Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 249 - 290.
  5. Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1992. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 468-505, June.
  6. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
  7. Goldin, Claudia D. & Bertrand, Marianne & Katz, Lawrence F., 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," Scholarly Articles 8810041, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Nuno Garoupa & Fernando Gómez, 2002. "Cashing by the hour: Why large law firms prefer hourly fees over contingent fees," Economics Working Papers 639, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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