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How Legal Operations Professionals Can Address the Gender Pay Gap During Salary Negotiations

Legal Operations Gender Pay Discrepancies

Legal operations professionals are predominantly women, so it is perhaps no surprise that the industry is disproportionately affected by the gender pay gap. As Brightflag’s legal operations compensation survey pointed out, women and non-binary people serving in similar roles as their male counterparts reported making 9% less than them on average.

Thankfully, there are concrete ways legal ops professionals of all genders can fight for equal pay and promote their firm’s internal and external DEI initiatives. By speaking up, using data to support your arguments, and underscoring the importance of equity at your firm, you can mitigate the effects of lower starting salaries and advocate for raises—both for yourself and others.

How Big is the Gender Pay Gap in Legal Operations?

According to the Pew Research Center, women in the U.S. earned, on average, only 82% of what men earned last year. The statistics in the field of legal operations aren’t much better.

According to the 2023 Legal Operations Compensations Survey conducted by Brightflag, the gender pay gap in legal ops has widened to as much as 29% in some key positions.

4 Negotiation Tactics Legal Operations Professionals Can Use to Close the Gender Pay Gap

Depending on your gender, experience, and previous role, you may find yourself making a lot more—or a lot less—than your other colleagues.

Here are 4 tactics you can use during performance reviews and salary negotiations to highlight equity at your firm—without losing sight of your own needs and professional goals.

Support your advocacy with data

When negotiating your salary or discussing your role during performance reviews, come prepared with data to proactively frame the conversation around equity.

Brightflag’s recent compensation survey featured a number of great statistics that can help make an especially powerful case for closing the gender pay gap in our industry. A few of the more notable observations included the fact that:

  1. The gender pay gap in legal ops has widened since last year.
  2. Those with backgrounds as paralegals—a predominantly female profession— are being paid as much as 29% less than legal ops professionals with other backgrounds, according to LinkedIn’s Talent Insights.

Using data can be an empowering way to advocate for yourself or others. Focusing on a specific fact is also key to making a well-reasoned, convincing argument. When the stakes are high—and you’re negotiating over a topic as sensitive as your salary—leaning on data will give you more control over the conversation.

Be vocal about your accomplishments

You deserve to be rewarded for the value you bring to your role.

Just as you use evidence from industry leaders like CLOC and Brightflag to frame the conversation around equity, identify specific, measurable improvements you’ve made to the firm.

This way, your managers have a detailed record of your performance that aligns with your salary and raise requests.

Use your influence to further DEI initiatives at your firm

In addition to receiving a fair salary, there are major organizational benefits to closing the gender pay gap in the field of legal operations.

Because pay inequity affects hiring practices and limits career growth, the pay gap impacts inclusive practices at every level of your firm. And if inclusivity isn’t a firm-wide priority, your organization will fall behind industry best practices.

In fact, CLOC named diversity, equity, and inclusion as one of its core dependencies in 2020. Their research also shows that failing to address DEI issues pushes firms further behind in areas like innovation and change-readiness. It’ll even impact their bottom line.

By helping to bring your colleagues into alignment with CLOC’s core dependencies, you’re ultimately advocating to make your entire firm more productive, innovative, diverse, and profitable.

Reward outside vendors

Looking for a concrete way to advance your firm’s DEI initiatives within your own role?

Use a vendor management system like Brightflag to find and reward outside firms that take an inclusive approach to delivering legal services.

Don’t forget to document your successes, so you can address them during your next performance review!


The field of legal operations may be disproportionately affected by the gender pay gap, but you can take steps to mitigate those impacts and ensure your wages—and the wages of your colleagues—are equitable.

You can find and share data on pay equity with your colleagues and managers, or even spearhead DEI initiatives that increase the company’s bottom line and improve conditions across the board.

Finally, if you’re interested in using your influence as a legal operations professional to close the gender pay gap, consider assessing outside vendors for inclusivity using Brightflag’s vendor management system.

A rising tide lifts all boats, and data about the gender pay gap will be part of an exciting seachange in legal ops in 2023 and beyond.

Maureen Casey, Customer Success Team Lead at Brightflag, smiling in front of a white background

Maureen Casey

Customer Success Team Lead at Brightflag

Maureen Casey is the Customer Success Team Lead at Brightflag. Maureen previously served as a Senior Customer Success Manager at Brightflag, Customer Success Manager at Infor, and Client Success Account Manager at Meltwater. Maureen holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from American University.