This story was published by The Globe and Mail on Tuesday. The firm concerned is one of the largest law firms in Canada: Cassels Brock & Blackweel. It has a main office in Toronto and two smaller ones in Calgary and Vancouver.
The newspaper found documents which indicate that, on average, associates earn almost 25% less than their male colleagues, or about $ 200,000 less.
The same document shows that 75% of lawyers at this level are men. Of the 116 lawyers listed on the document, it appears only four were women of color. Three of them were in the lowest income quartile.
But the pay inequalities do not stop there. They also concern bonuses. Also according to the same document, more than 80% of men received a bonus, but only 44% of women received one.
Me Kristin taylor, Cassels’ deputy managing partner, said the firm “was unable to comment extensively on highly private and confidential documents that were shared without the firm’s permission.” She defended herself, however, indicating that over the past four years, Cassels has promoted 19 women to the rank of partners.
Also contacted by Droit-inc, the communications director, Peter Wismath, said the cabinet fully recognizes the real and systemic challenges women face in the workplace.
He says the firm has already made a number of policy changes to our governance structure, compensation system, and mentoring and hiring practices to address these issues.
He even mentions “the adoption of a new pay system to better remedy historical pay inequalities”.
But when Droit-inc wanted to know more, especially if the firm will close the pay gap between women and men, Mr. Wismath replied that the firm is not in a position to publicly comment on the specific changes made to the process.
Ms. Taylor added to The Globe that it is important to note that “over the past two years, women have risen faster than their male counterparts in our pay grid.”
There is still a lot of opacity regarding the remuneration of partners in law firms. In 2018, the Women Lawyers Forum (WLF), a branch of the Canadian Bar Association, attempted to conduct a study on partner compensation. But the majority of firms were unwilling to disclose compensation amounts, even expressed as a percentage of the partners’ total income.
Only 27 firms (not named) out of 65 responded to the survey.
Law firms considered to be the most prestigious in the country, namely Blakes, Davies, Goodmans, McCarthy Tétrault, Osler, Stikeman Elliott and Torys use an “open compensation” model, in which partners can see what others are doing. . Borden Ladner Gervais, Canada’s largest law firm, with nearly 800 lawyers, uses a closed model.
This lack of pay transparency exacerbates the problem according to the WLF.
According to the document unearthed by The Globe, during those two years, the associates earned between 335,000 and more than 3 million dollars. In 2019, about a third of women were concentrated in the bottom quartile.
Internally, it seems that some women have tried to shake things up. None of the associates contacted by Droit-inc wanted to comment, even anonymously, referring us instead to the communications directors.
But The Globe got its hands on an email from an associate dated April 4, 2019 in which she sent out a quick calculation on the gender gap in the compensation of our associates.
The pay gap is “relatively small”, she writes, less than 5% per year, but bonuses are “another story”.
To “justify” these differences, the firm’s lawyers evoke the fact that women have less continuous careers, in particular because of maternity leave, but also that male partners are more likely to be put on files that generate more money. billable hours.