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Gender gaps in performance: Evidence from young lawyers

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 has widely-used 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 with respect to both measures. 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 performance gaps have important consequences for gender gaps in earnings. While individual and firm characteristics explain up to 50 percent of earnings gap, the inclusion of performance measures explains most of the remainder.

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File URL: http://www.econ.upf.edu/docs/papers/downloads/1300.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1300.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision: Mar 2012
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1300
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Rosen, S., 1991. "The Market for Lawyers," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 91-10, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  4. 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.
  5. John S. Heywood & Daniel Parent, 2009. "Performance Pay and the White-Black Wage Gap," Cahiers de recherche 0916, CIRPEE.
  6. 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.
  7. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  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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