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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 most high-skilled professions, the legal profession uses widely-accepted and objective methods to measure and reward lawyers' productivity: 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. Male lawyers bill ten-percent more hours and bring in more than double the new client revenue. We show that the differential impact across genders in the presence of young children and the differences in aspirations to become a law-firm partner account for a large part of the difference in performance. These gaps in performance have important consequences for gender gaps in earnings. While individual and firm characteristics explain up to 50 percent of the gap in earnings, the inclusion of performance measures explains most of the remainder.

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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. John S. Heywood & Daniel Parent, 2009. "Performance Pay and the White-Black Wage Gap," Cahiers de recherche 0916, CIRPEE.
  2. de la Rica, Sara & Dolado, Juan J. & Vegas, Raquel, 2010. "Performance Pay and the Gender Wage Gap: Evidence from Spain," IZA Discussion Papers 5032, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  4. Rosen, Sherwin, 1992. "The Market for Lawyers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 215-46, October.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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