Your firm data

Updated 21 July 2017

Reporting your law firm diversity data to the SRA

You can report your data now and the deadline for reporting is 18 August 2017. You can read a quick summary of the reporting process or download a user guide. All regulated firms have to collect, report and publish data about the diversity make-up of their workforce. If you work as an in-house solicitor or for a non-regulated organisation, this does not apply to you.

Collect diversity data from people at your firm

We have issued an updated diversity questionnaire which you can use to collect information from the people working for your firm. We will accept diversity data which has already been collected for this year’s report using the old questionnaire. Read more and download a copy of our diversity questionnaire.

Publishing a summary of your data

You should publish a summary of your firm’s diversity breakdown in a way that does not identify anyone. Read more about publishing.

How we will use the data

After we collect the information, the law firm diversity tool will be updated so you can see the make-up of law firms across the sector. We may provide this data to others, for example the Legal Services Board, the Ministry of Justice or researchers. However we will make sure that no-one can be identified from any data published or shared with others. We will also use the diversity data in our regulatory reform work and to help us monitor the effectiveness of our work to encourage diversity in the profession.

If you have any questions, please contact us.


Please use www.sra.org.uk/diversitydata to link to this page.

Reporting your diversity data to us

Please report your data to us by 18 August 2017.

Logging in

Only authorised signatories and organisation contacts can log using their mySRA account username and password. If you have forgotten either of these you can request them.

Select firm

If you want your submission to cover other firms who are linked to your firm you can do this from the Select firm(s) section. You will need the SRA number of the firms you wish to link. The group you created last time has been retained.

Enter data

The first page of this section will display the role categories - you will need to enter the number of people in each role category and enter the diversity data for each category from this page. Please complete this for all role categories before continuing to the next section.

Publication

You need to tell us where you have published your data and if you have not published, the reason why.

Review and submit

You can review your data on the screen before you submit. Once you have done this you will see confirmation that you have submitted successfully. You can download your data into a spreadsheet from this screen. You can edit your data after this but you will need to submit the data again – the status of your firm’s reporting will be displayed on the Select firm page.

Read more detailed guidance and download the user guide.

Collecting diversity data

The diversity questionnaire

You can use our diversity questionnaire to collect information from the people working for your firm. A Microsoft Word version (DOC 5 pages, 108K) is available for you to use and we have a Welsh version available (DOC 6 pages, 115K). Please remember to include your own message so people know what you will be doing with the data.

We have made some changes to the diversity questionnaire this year. However if you have already collected your data using the previous questionnaire, you will still be able to use this for reporting in 2017.

Please do not make assumptions about people. Everyone should be allowed to complete the questionnaire themselves.

Although you must give people an opportunity to respond, you cannot compel anyone to provide their diversity information. However, they may want to take part if they understand they can choose 'prefer not to say' for the questions they would rather not answer. You will be asked to confirm how many people did not respond when you report the data.

Think about data protection before you start the collection

Before you start, you should tell people how the data will be used and who will have access to it. Make sure you comply with the data protection legislation when you collect, store and process this information.

Please also remember that the data reported to us can be seen by all authorised signatories and organisation contacts for your firm.

You may prefer to collect on an anonymous basis, however the information will be much more useful if it is linked to an individual, eg by reference to a confidential identification number. Then it can be used to monitor a range of employment activities over time, such as promotion, pay rates, or recruitment practices. People are more likely to provide information which can be traced back to them if you reassure them about confidentiality and tell them how your firm will keep their data secure.

Who should be included in the collection?

Everyone working at your firm is covered by the firm diversity data collection, not just solicitors. You should include:

  • Full-time and part-time employees.
  • Employees on maternity leave or on long term sick leave (but only if they are in contact with the firm during their absence and are willing to respond).
  • Temporary employees, those on a secondment contract, consultants or other contracted staff working with you for three months or longer.

You should not include:

  • People engaged in work which has been outsourced by the firm.
  • Barristers or other experts engaged by the firm on individual matters.
  • People who are normally based outside England and Wales.

If someone works for more than one firm, they must only complete one questionnaire. This should be for the firm where they do the majority of their work and spend most of their time.

Role categories

Everyone must be put into one of these role categories. Make sure your staff know which category they are in if you are conducting an anonymous survey.

If someone falls into more than one category, they should use the one which most accurately reflects their main role.

Please note that reference to solicitors includes Registered European Lawyers and Registered Foreign Lawyers.

Role category Notes
Solicitor partner (sole practitioner, member or director) Partners, members or directors who are not solicitors should be recorded in the “Managerial role” category below
Solicitor (not partners) All other practising solicitors including assistant solicitors, associates or consultants.
Other fee earning role Includes fee earners such as trainee solicitors, members of CILEx who are not Chartered Legal Executives (Fellows) or CILEx Practitioners and paralegals, i.e. those who are not “authorised persons”
Role directly supporting a fee earner Includes legal secretaries, administrators, legal assistants, and non fee earning paralegals
Managerial role Includes non lawyer partners, directors, or members and others such as practice managers, finance or account managers etc
IT/HR/other corporate services role Includes non-managerial staff working in support services - including finance or accountancy roles
Barrister People who are authorised by the Bar Standards Board
Chartered Legal Executive (Fellow)/CILEx Practitioner People who are authorised by CILEx Regulation
Licensed Conveyancer People who are authorised by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers
Patent or Trade Mark Attorney People who are authorised by the Intellectual Property Regulation Board
Costs Lawyer People who are authorised by the Costs Lawyer Standards Board
Notary People who are authorised by the Master of the Faculties
Prefer not to say  
An "authorised person" is a person who is authorised by one of the approved regulators to carry on the relevant activity (defined by the Legal Services Act 2007). Solicitors with a current practising certificate, registered European lawyers and registered foreign lawyers are "authorised" by us.

Publishing your data

What you have to do

You should publish a summary of your diversity data, so long as it complies with data protection legislation.

For larger firms, your data will be more meaningful if you provide some interpretation; showing any trends and setting out any steps you are taking to promote diversity at the firm.

A much richer picture of your firm will be provided if you publish more detail, for example about your new trainee or partner appointments.

You should refresh your publication each time you collect a new set of diversity data.

What about data protection?

You should not publish any diversity data in a way that might identify individuals. Therefore sole practitioners and small firms may find they cannot publish their data at all.

You do not have to include information relating to religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender. It is good practice to publish this data, but it can be quite sensitive, so make your own decision on this.

To minimise the risk of identifying individuals you could:

  • Merge role categories to show a high level breakdown of the data, for example by partner, other fee earner and support staff.
  • Publish data across the whole firm.
  • Show the high level ethnicity categories rather than the detailed sub categories.

For more guidance about your obligations see the Code of Practice on publishing anonymous data from the Information Commissioner's Office.

Where you should publish your data

Your diversity data should be made available to your staff and externally. Most firms will choose to publish on their website, but you can use alternative or additional publication methods such as:

  • A poster in your office reception area and/or meeting rooms.
  • An article in your internal or external newsletter/bulletin.

If you are publishing on your website, you should make it easy to find and understand. This could include:

  • Having a "Diversity" link on your homepage with a specific page for diversity data.
  • Illustrating the data using clear tables, diagrams or graphics and include a summary of what it shows.
  • If you can, adding enough detail to show for example, how many of your female partners attended fee-paying schools.
  • Showcasing your approach to diversity and any initiatives you have in place.

Being open with this information gives you an opportunity to highlight your firm's commitment to diversity. This could offer a competitive advantage in promoting your firm to clients and attracting the best talent to join you.

Examples of how you might set out your data

Here are some examples of how to set out your diversity data. Please ensure that graphs and tables published online can be easily read by assistive technology.

Staff ethnic breakdown with the roles reduced to four main categories and the ethnicity categories reported at the highest level.

16-24 is 7.06%,

Gender breakdown as a percentage of all staff with the roles reduced to six categories

Gender breakdown as a percentage of all staff
Role category Male Female
Partners 69 31
Solicitors 55 45
Other fee earners (e.g. trainees,paralegals,legal execs) 41 59
Role directly supporting fee earner (e.g. PAs) 2 98
Business services – Managerial 36 64
Business services – Support 38 62

Age distribution of employees across the whole firm

16-24 is 7.06%,

Q. When will we next have to report our diversity data to the SRA?

A. Firms will need to report their data to us online by 18 August 2017 and every two years after that.

Q. Why are you now collecting diversity data every two years?

A. We understand that collecting the data can be time consuming. So we will now collect every two years which still allows us to effectively monitor trends.

Q. Will we be able to access the data we gave you in 2015?

A. Yes, but you will need to email us for a copy. The data provided by firms in 2015 is not longer available to view online because we are now collecting new data.

Q. How has the SRA diversity questionnaire changed since 2015?

A. We have made the questionnaire more inclusive for people whose gender identity is not male or female and those who identify as transgender. We have also removed questions about ownership and supervisory responsibilities because we were not able to breakdown this information by diversity characteristics. Otherwise, there are no significant changes.

Q. If a firm has already collected its diversity data for 2017 using the old diversity questionnaire can they use this data for our current data collection exercise?

A. Yes, firms can use this data and will not have to carry out another diversity survey.

Q. Why have you included questions about gender identity and those who identify as transgender?

A. We think the time is right to introduce these changes to make our diversity questionnaire more inclusive. We considered feedback from firms already collecting this data and took advice from experts in this area. If you want more information, please see our trans inclusion guidance and the guidance offered by Stonewall. Please remember that you should make sure you keep this, and all other diversity data information about your staff, confidential.

Q. Do small firms and sole practitioners have to collect as well?

A. Yes, all firms regulated by us, however large or small, have to collect their data. This includes recognised bodies, sole practitioners and licensed bodies/alternative business structures.

Q. Does this apply to in-house lawyers?

A. No, just firms regulated by us.

Q. What if someone works for more than one firm?

A. If they work for more than one firm, they must only complete one questionnaire. This should be for the firm where they do the majority of their work and spend most of their time. If they work for a number of firms on an equal basis, they should complete the questionnaire for the one they have been working for the longest.

Q. Should consultants be included in the diversity data collection for our firm?

A. Yes, but only those who are contracted for three months or longer with you. It does not matter whether they are paid through invoices or through the payroll. Consultants should be included within the appropriate role category as if they were employees.

Q. Are a firm's corporate partners or other regulated entities such as a nominee or trustee firm covered?

A. Yes, if they are regulated by us. You can link them to the main firm to form a group. This means you only need to collect and report one set of diversity data for all firms in the group.

Q. We would like to outsource the collection exercise. Is this acceptable?

A. Yes, there are a number of companies who offer this service. Please remember that you will still need to report your firm diversity data to us when we are ready to receive the information in the week commencing 17 July 2017.

Q. I have already included my own diversity data in the My Profile section of mySRA. Why do I have to provide it again?

A. This information is personal to you. The wider firm-based diversity data collection includes everyone employed at the firm. It was not possible for us to merge the two sets of data, which means that solicitors are also asked to participate in the firm survey as well.

Q. Are we required to publish our diversity data if people could be identified?

A. No, you must consider whether the data protection legislation prevents you from doing this. However there may be ways to minimise this risk, see our publishing guidance for more information.

Q. Do we need to apply to the SRA for an exemption or waiver from the publication requirement if we decide we cannot publish our diversity data?

A. No, if you decide that you cannot publish some or all of your diversity data you do not need to apply for any exemption or waiver. You may wish to record your decision so that you can tell us why, if we ask you about this.

Q. What action will the SRA take if a firm does not comply with the requirements?

A. This is a regulatory requirement and we expect every firm to comply. Where firms do not provide the information, we may have to take further action.

Q. What happens if someone at my firm refuses to respond to the diversity questionnaire?

A. You must give people an opportunity to respond, but you cannot compel anyone to provide their diversity information. To encourage people to respond you should explain the purpose of the survey and reassure them about confidentiality.

Q. How do we respond to concerns from our staff about completing the questionnaire?

A. If someone is concerned about answering a question, they will be able to select "prefer not to say". Stonewall provides excellent guidance for employers in their workplace guide Using monitoring data: making the most of sexual orientation data collection. This advice is helpful across all areas of diversity monitoring.

Q. Why does the SRA make this a regulatory requirement?

A. This reflects the SRA principles, for example:

  • Principle 9 which states: 'you must run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity'.
  • Principle 7 which states: 'you must comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner'.

It is also one of the mandatory outcomes in chapter two of the Code of Conduct in the SRA Handbook which requires you "to have appropriate arrangements in place to ensure that you monitor, report and where appropriate, publish workforce diversity data".

Q. Where can I get more advice about equality and diversity?

A. Our firm diversity data resources offer more information and guidance on the benefits of diversity and how to promote diversity in your firm. You can also compare your firm’s diversity to similar firms using our interactive tool.

For more information about your regulatory obligations, please see Principle 9 in the Handbook and Chapter 2 of the Code of Conduct.

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