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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 assesses performance using transparent measures 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. We also show that accounting for performance has important consequences for gender gaps in lawyers' earnings and subsequent promotion. 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. Performance measures also explain a sizeable share of the gender gap in promotion.

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File URL: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1136.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1136.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1136
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1991. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daniel Parent & John S. Heywood, 2009. "Performance Pay And The White-Black Wage Gap," Departmental Working Papers 2009-07, McGill University, Department of Economics.
  3. Rosen, S., 1991. "The Market for Lawyers," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 91-10, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  4. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 228-55, July.
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