31 Oct 2018

NZ legal salary survey reveals surprise in gender pay

Survey finds no distinguishable gender pay differences in first career decade either in-house or outside, but overall still lower pay for women.


A New Zealand survey of salaries paid to employed lawyers has found little difference between the salaries of male and female lawyers with the same levels of experience in their first decade of legal practice.

Encouraging results

The New Zealand Law Society and Niche Consulting Group Legal Salary Survey 2018 surveyed lawyers who were employed by a law firm or working as in-house lawyers, excluding partners or directors of law firms and barristers sole. The survey went to 7,688 lawyers, with 2,579 (33.6%) responding in full or partially. This was the best response of the five legal salary surveys which the Law Society has carried out. Legal recruiter Niche Consulting Group carried out the analysis. ‘It is encouraging that the survey found no distinguishable differences in the salaries paid to women and men, New Zealand Law Society president Kathryn Beck stated. Ms Beck explained, ‘however, it also showed noticeable differences between genders in hours worked, the level of salary increases, benefits and other employment conditions. Women also make up only one-third of the partners and directors in our law firms, which will mean that across the whole legal profession the overall average remuneration of a woman lawyer is below the average of a male lawyer.’

Greater awareness

Niche Consulting Group director Jane Temel said, ‘while it is positive to see a greater awareness of gender pay equity across the profession, the survey has shed light on hidden areas of bias around the awarding of salary increases and benefits.’ Ms Temel explained, ‘anecdotally, we know that many lawyers who have been granted part-time hours remain on the same salary until they revert to full-time hours; they either do not expect to receive a salary increase, or they are afraid the benefit might be removed if they seek a salary increase. The survey shows that part-time workers are less likely to receive a salary increase than full-time workers. This is an issue that mainly affects women, due to the higher number of women working part-time. The full report on the salary survey here.