Today, LexisNexis’ CounselLink will be releasing new data which highlights hourly billing rate discrepancies based on gender and ethnicity. The data comes from more than 20,000 attorney profiles in CounselLink and analyses hourly billing rates on invoices billed between January 2020 and September 2021. I
I had a call with Kris Satkunis, Director of Strategic Consulting at CounselLink. Satkunis described how law firm billing rates are “a proxy for how much the firm values the attorney’s work or skills” and this obviously has a significant impact on attorney compensation. An examination of the data indicated that billing rates are generally the same across gender and ethnic groups at the lowest billing rate levels but then begin to diverge at higher levels. Satkunis concludes that “ethnicity is clearly a factor, with Asian billings rates coming in higher than all other groups and Hispanic/LatinX coming in at the lowest.”
Program Today The data will be discussed at a program sponsored by the Buying Legal Counsel at 11 am EST today. Register at this link.
Here are some sample key findings:
- Associate: There is no noticeable disparity through the 10th/25th/50thpercentiles of billing rates, but an 8% gap forms between males and females in 75th and remains in the 90th.
- Partner: For firms overall, there is no disparity in billing rates until the 50thpercentile (6%). At the 75th percentile, the gap widens to 10%, then dips to 9% at the 90th At very large firms (>750 lawyers), gender billing rate disparity among partners is constant across all percentiles, ranging from 11% to 17%.
Ethnicity – Black vs. White: Black billing rates start slightly higher at the lowest levels, but then fall behind those of White colleagues at higher levels.
- Associate: In the 10thpercentile, Black associate billing rates are slightly higher than those of their White peers. By the 25th percentile, White rates are 4% higher and the gap increases at all data points. By the 90th percentile the differential is 23%.
- Partner: Similarly, Black partner billing rates in the 10thpercentile start slightly higher than White’s, but at the 25th percentile they surpass their Black colleagues. At the 50thpercentile, an 18% differential is evident, which expands to 22% in the 75th but contracts to 7% in the 90th.
Ethnicity – Hispanic/LatinX vs.White: Overall, billing rates for Hispanic/LatinX partners and associates are much lower than other ethnicities.
- Associate: Hispanic/LatinX associate billing rates start 25% lower than Whites at the 10thpercentile, and a large gap is evident across all percentiles. By the 90thpercentile, the hourly rate gap is 32%.
- Partner: Hispanic/LatinX partner billing rates for in the 10thpercentile follow a similar pattern, with a gap of 8% materializing at the 10th After that, the disparity grows, ranging from 16% to 28%.
Ethnicity – Asian vs. White: In stark contrast, Asian billing rates start higher than other ethnicities and remain so across all percentiles
- Associate: Asian associate’s billing rates are actually higher than their White counterparts at every percentile. A gap of 13% appears in the 25thpercentile, which widens to 19% at the 50th. The gap narrows to 13% at the 75th percentile and 5% at the 90th.
- Partner: Asian partner billing rate trends mirror those associates, starting and remaining higher vs. White partners at all percentiles, and are much higher than partners of other ethnicities. At the 10thpercentile, Asian partners billing rates are 20% higher than their White peers. That gap narrows across all the other percentiles. Asian partner rates at the 90th percentile are only 4% higher than those of White partners.