Diversity

Why this risk matters

  • A diverse legal market encourages:
    • High standards – allowing the most talented people to become solicitors and progress in their careers.
    • The effective administration of justice – a diversity of views and approaches supports an independent and effective justice system.
    • Improved access to services – some people may be more likely to seek legal advice if they share some social or cultural characteristics with solicitors.
  • Diversity also makes good business sense for law firms. The individuals and small businesses that need legal help are increasingly diverse. They are likely to expect to see this reflected in the service providers they choose. Also, to retain a strong legal workforce in an increasingly diverse labour market, firms must demonstrate that they respect and support the values of their staff.

Trends

  • Women make up 33% of all partners, which is up from 31% in 2014.
  • Larger firms (50+ partners) have 29% female partners compared with 37% for mid-size firms (six to nine partners).
  • BAME individuals make up 21% of all lawyers, which is higher than the census data for economically active people (13%) and has increased from around 15% in 2014.
  • There has been a rise in Asian lawyers in the profession, up from 9% in 2014 to 14% in 2017.
  • Larger firms have the lowest proportion of BAME partners, in particular Asian partners make up just 5% of their partners compared with 34% in one-partner firms.
  • 24% of partners went to a fee-paying school compared to 20% of non-partners. The gap is higher still for partners in the larger firms where 36% went to fee-paying schools, although this has fallen from 43% in 2014.

Actions

  • We have updated our firm diversity tool following our recent data collection and published a summary of the key findings. And we published information about the diversity of in-house solicitors.
  • We also published a report focusing on the business benefits of increased diversity and inclusion in law firms. The report gives examples of what firms can do to realise the benefits of improved diversity, such as being more transparent about their diversity and having an inclusive workplace where everyone can be themselves.
  • Firms can consider getting involved in initiatives such as the Social Mobility Business Partnership, PRIME, Aspiring Solicitors and Pathways to Law.
  • We are committed to promoting good practice in equality, diversity and inclusion in all our work. We regularly support, attend and promote professional and community events, such as the Pride parades and events that promote diversity and wellbeing for all solicitors. We also sponsor the UK Diversity Legal Awards.

Further information

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