Research on Compensation for Solo and Small-Firm Attorneys
Study highlights data related to pay, including a lingering gendered pay gap

by Julia Cardi

No matter how you slice it, women in the law make less than men.

Martindale-Avvo’s lawyer compensation study released in June catalogs data related to income for small-firm lawyers across the U.S., compiled from responses from 6,891 practitioners. The study collected a vast swath of data related to compensation, including a lingering gender-based pay gap, how much money solo and small-firm attorneys make broken down by practice area and which billing structures they use.

Kelly Newcomb, Martindale-Avvo’s chief marketing officer, said the study defined small law firms as those with 21 or fewer attorneys. Their average compensation in 2018 was $194,000.

According to additional data she provided, attorneys also reported their seniority level:

  • 32% solo attorneys
  • 29% partners at firms with 10 attorneys or fewer
  • 13% partners at firms with 11 attorneys or more
  • 13% associates at firms with 10 attorneys or fewer
  • 8% attorneys at firms with 11 attorneys or more
  • 2% of counsel

Of the respondents, 69% percent were men and 31% women. That’s a close match to the nationwide demographics of the legal profession as a whole. According to data from the American Bar Association, the profession in 2019 comprises 64% men and 36% women.