Diversity monitoring statistics 2011

Introduction

Monitoring is an essential part of our Equality Framework at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), helping us to ensure that we carry out our regulatory activities in a fair, proportionate and non-discriminatory way and are open and transparent about the way we work.

This report provides statistical data about key aspects of our regulatory activity for the calendar year 2011 reflecting our approach to regulation before the introduction of the new Handbook (in October 2011) and before we moved fully to our new outcomes-focused approach to regulation. The data is broken down by ethnicity, gender, age and for the first time this year we have been able to include a breakdown by disability across all areas of regulatory activity covered in this report. However, the disability data should be treated with some caution as there is still significant under reporting of disability in the profession.

This is our fourth published annual statistics report and to allow for trend analysis, covers the same five regulatory areas covered in previous years. The first data set provides the number of solicitors reported to us for potential breaches of the Code of Conduct and the outcome of conduct investigations. The following three data sets provide the number of partners in firms the SRA have closed down through our intervention powers, the number of solicitors referred by the SRA to the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) for disciplinary action, and the number of solicitors who had conditions applied to their practising certificates. As in previous years, the final data set provides the number of solicitors subjected to regulatory action for failing to submit their accountants' reports by a certain date. This provides an interesting comparison to the other areas as the regulatory action for late accountants' reports is triggered automatically as compared to the other regulatory activities where the SRA takes a risk based decision on whether or not to proceed.

To set the context for this regulatory data, the report starts with a breakdown of the solicitors' practising population by ethnicity, gender, age and disability. In addition we have provided a table indicating what proportion of practising solicitors are at partner level, broken down by ethnicity, gender, age and disability. To better understand the data, we have provided a more accurate comparator population comprised of those solicitors named against Conduct and Regulatory matters. This is more reflective of the actual pool of people who are subject to the SRA's regulatory decision making than the whole population of practising solicitors.

We have set out the report as follows:

  • a summary of our findings;
  • summary tables, setting out in one place, a breakdown of the solicitors practising population and the comparator population alongside the data for each of the five regulatory activities covered;
  • a section explaining how to understand the data tables;
  • a breakdown of the solicitor population, the proportion of solicitors at partner level and the comparator population; and
  • data for each of the five regulatory activities covered.

In the light of our move to outcomes-focused regulation, we will be reviewing our diversity monitoring report for 2012. Our work is now organised by our three main functions, authorisation, supervision and enforcement. We will continue to provide data for the regulatory outcomes of our enforcement work, namely the cases referred for disciplinary action internally (the conduct matters), those which are dealt with externally (SDT referrals) and interventions. We are currently considering how best to capture and monitor the work we are doing in supervision and authorisation.

We would be happy to provide more detailed data in relation to equality and diversity monitoring where we have it. For queries or comments on this report please contact: equalityanddiversityenquiries@sra.org.uk

Summary of our findings

In our monitoring report for 2011, we have identified continuing over representation of male solicitors and Black and minority ethnic (BME) solicitors both in the new conduct matters reported to us and the outcomes of some of our regulatory work. The patterns are similar to those identified in 2009 and highlighted in the research we commissioned from Pearn Kandola into disproportionality. We have made progress in implementing the Pearn Kandola recommendations and at the end of this report we reflect further on the work we have done to address disproportionality to date and the key issues for us to address in the context of the new outcomes-focused regulatory environment.

Conduct matters

  • In relation to the reports made to the SRA (over which we have no control), we again received a disproportionate number of reports against BME solicitors, male solicitors and solicitors over the age of 40 alleging breach of the Code of Conduct.
  • When looking at how the SRA dealt with these reports, we found that BME solicitors are less likely to have their matters 'Summary Closed' whereas solicitors over the age of 65 are more likely to have their matters 'Summary Closed'. We also found that a similar proportion of conduct cases were 'Upheld' against white solicitors as compared to BME solicitors, indicating proportionality in decision-making with regard to ethnicity and investigative outcomes. Investigations involving women have been 'Upheld' in proportionally fewer instances than men. In addition, investigations involving solicitors aged 22-30 have been 'Upheld' in proportionally fewer instances than other age groups. These findings have been consistent over the last 3 years.

Interventions

  • When comparing against the comparator population there still appears to be some disproportionality in the number of BME solicitors being intervened into. However, 2011 saw a reduction in the proportion of interventions involving BME solicitors from 38 percent in 2010 to 30 percent in 2011, a reduction from 25 BME individuals in 2010 to 20 in 2011. 61 of the firms intervened into were 1 and 2 partner firms, with 1 being a 3-partner firm. This may in part account for the disproportionality for BME solicitors who are known to be over represented in firms of this size.
  • Male solicitors are more likely to be intervened into than female solicitors. This is expected as there are a greater percentage of male solicitors who are a partner or partner equivalent within a firm.
  • Over the last 3 years there has been an increase in the proportion of interventions involving solicitors of the 51-60 age group.

Referrals to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

  • For each of the last 3 years there has been a consistently disproportionate number of BME solicitors and male solicitors referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. There was an overall increase in the number of individuals referred to the SDT in 2011, from 311 in 2010 to 390 and 35% of these were BME although this group made up only 27% of the comparator group.

Late accountant reports

  • As the responsibility for the delivery of accountants reports lie with the partners (or equivalent) of a firm we must compare the proportions provided to the partner / partner equivalent population breakdown.
  • Late accountants' reports are generated as a direct result of actions or inaction from the profession as opposed to a decision taken by the SRA. There is disproportionality in the figures for BME partners / partner equivalents, female partners / partner equivalents, partners / partner equivalents over the age of 60 years old and partners / partner equivalents between the ages of 22—40.

Practising certificate conditions

  • There is disproportionality in the imposition of practising conditions for BME solicitors, male solicitors and solicitors between the ages of 40—60 years old.

Summary Tables

The following summary tables provide an overview of the data provided in the report with the exception of ‘Conduct Investigations Outcomes’ which has been excluded because the tables in that section compare outcomes for each group against one another rather than against the solicitor population.

The percentages shown in the unshaded cells are calculated as a proportion of solicitors for whom equality data is known, not as a proportion of the whole solicitor population.

The light grey cells provide a separate set of percentages, giving the proportion of the total whose group is either known or unknown. The darkest grey cells at the bottom provide the Total actual number of individuals for each action.

SRA 2011 summary by ethnicity Solicitor Population Comparator Population New Conduct Investigations Interventions Referrals to the SDT Late Accountants’ Reports Practising Certificate Conditions
BME 14% 27% 27% 30% 35% 23% 34%
Asian 8% 16% 15% 14% 19% 13% 18%
Black 2% 8% 8% 17% 13% 8% 14%
Chinese 1% 0% 1% 0% 1% 1% 0%
Mixed 1% 1% 1% 0% 1% 0% 0%
Other ethnic group 2% 2% 2% 0% 2% 1% 2%
White 86% 73% 73% 70% 65% 77% 66%
Ethnicity known 89% 83% 84% 87% 82% 87% 86%
Ethnicity not known 11% 17% 16% 13% 18% 14% 14%
Total individuals 129,780 2,458 1,394 76 390 535 459
SRA 2011 summary by gender Solicitor Population Comparator Population New Conduct Investigations Interventions Referrals to the SDT Late Accountants’ Reports Practising Certificate Conditions
Female 46% 29% 29% 22% 19% 30% 21%
Male 54% 71% 71% 78% 81% 70% 79%
Gender known 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Gender not known 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
Total individuals 129,780 2,458 1,394 76 390 535 459

Summary Tables

SRA 2011 summary by Age Band Solicitor Population Comparator Population New Conduct Investigations Interventions Referrals to the SDT Late Accountants’ Reports Practising Certificate Conditions
22-30 16% 3% 4% 4% 2% 2% 0%
31-40 35% 23% 24% 17% 20% 23% 15%
41-50 26% 31% 32% 26% 32% 33% 37%
51-60 16% 26% 25% 33% 31% 27% 33%
61-65 4% 9% 9% 13% 9% 10% 8%
65+ 2% 7% 6% 7% 6% 5% 7%
Age known 100% 98% 98% 100% 98% 100% 100%
Age not known 0% 2% 2% 0% 2% 0% 0%
Total individuals 129,780 2,458 1,394 76 390 535 459
SRA 2011 summary by Disability Solicitor Population Comparator Population New Conduct Investigations Interventions Referrals to the SDT Late Accountants’ Reports Practising Certificate Conditions
With Disability 1% 1% 1% 0% 1% 1% 1%
Without Disability 45% 38% 39% 100% 41% 41% 46%
Total of known Disability Status 46% 39% 40% 39% 42% 42% 47%
Disability Status not known 54% 61% 60% 61% 58% 58% 53%
Total individuals 129,780 2,458 1,394 76 390 535 459

Understanding the data tables

The majority of data tables in this report are presented in a consistent format and show the following information:

  • The number of individuals from each equality group and the proportion that this represents of those of known ethnicity, gender, disability or age
  • The proportion whose ethnicity, gender, disability or age is unknown against the total.

We refer to ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ groups in the tables for ethnicity and age to illustrate the proportion of individuals for whom we hold the data. The unknown group includes individuals who have expressly declined to provide the data when asked. This is not necessary for the gender tables as we hold the gender data for the whole solicitor population.

For the ethnicity tables we have set out figures for the BME group (Black and Minority Ethnic) as well as the five ethnicity categories which make up that group. For more detail about the ethnicity categories used in this report please see Appendix One.

Actual numbers are provided in the ‘Total’ column, with the percentage of the known group provided in brackets. Actual numbers are always supplied alongside percentages to avoid mis-interpretation as it is not possible to draw reliable conclusions when the numbers are relatively small.

Graphs are included alongside the data tables. These provide an overview of the changes for each group for the years 2009, 2010and 2011. These graphs exclude the unknown group. In the ethnicity tables the graphs show groups at binary level (BME and White).

An example of the data table layout is provided and further explained below:

New conduct matters by Ethnicity 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
BME 3111 (27%)2 graph example  
Asian 179 (15%)
Black 96 (8%)
Chinese 7 (1%)
Mixed 7 (1%)
Other ethnic group 22 (2%)
White 854 (73%)
Total of known Ethnicity3 1,165
Ethnicity not known4 229 (16%)
Total 5 1,394 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

1. Number of individuals

2. Percentage based on the known total: 311 / 1,165

3. Actual number of the known group, against which the above percentages are calculated

4. Actual number in the unknown group shown also as a percentage of the overall total

5. Overall total number of individuals

Based on the above table we find that (excluding those whose ethnicity is not known to us) 27% of individuals who were subject to new conduct matters were from BME groups (311 out of 1,394 of known ethnicity). The remaining 73% were of White ethnicity.

A total of 1,394 individuals were identified in new conduct matters for 2011 and we hold ethnicity data for 1,165 of these. We do not hold ethnicity data for 229 of these individuals which represent 16% of the total.

The Conduct Investigations Outcomes tables are different, setting out the numbers as a proportion of each individual group rather than the whole known solicitor population. In the example shown below, it can be seen that 317 conduct investigations which were upheld involved men, which represents 22% of the total of investigations involving men (1,467). In addition to these 1,467 investigations involving men, there were 603 complaints about men which were closed at the outset (summary closure).

Conduct investigations closed 2011 by Gender A: Summary Closed A + B + C: Total B: Upheld C: Not upheld B + C: Total
No. % Summary Closed No. No. % upheld No. % not upheld No.
Female 220 29% 753 98 18% 435 82% 533
Male 603 29% 2,070 317 22% 1,150 78% 1,467
Total 823 29% 2,823 4151 21%2 1,585 79%2 2,000

1. Total number of upheld closed investigations

2. Percentages are shown for each group - % upheld and not upheld total 100% for each group

For the ethnicity and age tables we have entered the number of individuals in the known and unknown groups above the total row.

This year we have added new 'pyramid charts', these graphs, and the associated tables, show the cross-strand make up of the practising solicitor population and can be used to provide an indication of how the solicitor population may have changed or is currently changing over time. The tables which provide the data for the pyramid charts are also presented differently. The main difference relating to the calculation of the percentages provided. The percentages shown are a percentage of the total population. The table shows that there are 7,496 male solicitors aged 22 -30 years old. These solicitors make up 6% of the total practising solicitor population (7,496 / 129,780 X 100).

Practising population by Age & Gender Male Female Combined Gender
22—30 7,496 (6%) 13,120 (0%) 20,616
31—40 20,604 (16%) 24,690 (7%) 45,294
41—50 19,361 (15%) 14,463 (11%) 33,824
51—60 14,615 (11%) 6,322 (6%) 20,937
61—65 4,829 (3%) 868 (1%) 5,697
65+ 2,780 (2%) 263 (0%) 3,043
Unknown 292 (0%) 77 (0%) 369
Total 69,977 (54%) 59,803 (46%) 129,780

Other important points to note

Comparison with the solicitors practising population

  • We have provided statistics about the solicitors practising population as a useful reference point when looking at the outcomes of our regulatory activity. The practising population includes solicitors who are on the roll and hold a current practising certificate, Registered European and Registered Foreign lawyers and Exempt European Lawyers. Our regulatory data covers all individuals within the scope of our regulatory powers and so will additionally include individuals on the roll who do not have a practicing certificate and individuals who work for a solicitor's firm.
  • We need to be cautious about drawing conclusions from comparing the equality breakdown for regulatory decisions, with the equality breakdown of the practising population. It is almost inevitable that there will be some disproportionality in the outcomes of our regulatory activities because the makeup of solicitors who are reported to us does not necessarily reflect the makeup of the practising population. Therefore, we have provided the equality breakdown of those solicitors named against Conduct matters and Regulatory matters as a comparator population. This is reflective of the solicitor population who have had allegations against them reported to the SRA.

Data relating to individuals and data relating to 'matters'

  • The data presented in this report relates to those individuals who have been recorded for each case dealt with by the SRA which are referred to as matters. A single matter can relate to one or more individuals who may be from different equality groups and may be subject to different investigation outcomes. In some cases, there will be no individual recorded against a conduct file (most commonly amongst those closed quickly due to lack of evidence of misconduct). There may also be several matters open in relation to a single individual. The majority of tables in this report do not take into consideration multiple matters for the same individual. Whether an individual is subject to one or four conduct investigations, they are counted once. This is in contrast to the outcomes tables where each individual is counted under each matter where they are listed as a subject individual in order that we can provide a breakdown by outcome. The notes for each section explain what the data represents.

Key findings

Where appropriate 'Key Findings' will be drawn from the data tables and graphs provided and presented within a light yellow box. These 'Key Findings' may identify where there is a continuous trend, where an exception to a trend has occurred, or where there appears to be disproportionality.

Practising Population

The 2011 solicitor population data is based on population makeup at the end of 2011

Data tables

The tables provide the total number of solicitors on the roll who hold a current Practising Certificate or are a Registered European Lawyer or a Registered Foreign Lawyer. The actual numbers are also shown as a percentage of the known solicitor population.

Practising population by Ethnicity 2011 population   Changes between 2009 and 2011
BME 15,604 (14%) Graph showing population / ethnicity change over past three years
Asian 8,686 (8%)
Black 2,522 (2%)
Chinese 1,197 (1%)
Mixed 1,290 (1%)
Other ethnic group 1,909 (2%)
White 99,770 (86%)
Total of known Ethnicity 115,374
Ethnicity not known 14,406 (11%)
Total 129,780 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Practising population by Gender 2011 population   Changes between 2009 and 2011
Female 59,803 (46%) Graph showing population / gender changes over the past three years
Male 69,977 (54%)
Total of known Gender 129,780
Gender not known 0
Total 129,780 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Practising population by Age 2011 population   Changes between 2009 and 2011
22—30 20,616 (16%) Graph showing the changes in population / age over the past three years
31—40 45,294 (35%)
41—50 33,824 (26%)
51—60 20,937 (16%)
61—65 5,697 (4%)
65+ 3,043 (2%)
Total of known Age 129,780
Age not known 369 (0%)
Total 129,780 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

Unlike most of the graphs within this document where the "Unknown" group has been excluded from the graphs the graph below includes this group due to the proportion of solicitors with a notified disability being so low. The graph below shows that between 2009 and 2011 the information we hold on solicitors relating to their disability status has improved with a reduction in the "Unknown" group being observed.

Practising population by Disability Status 2011 population   Changes between 2009 and 2011
With Disability 925 (1%) Graph showing changes in population / disability over the past three years
Without a Disability 58,894 (45%)
Total of known Disability Status 59,819
Disability Status not known 69,961 (54%)
Total 129,780 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

Practising Population – pyramid charts

The 2011 solicitor population data is based on population makeup at the end of 2011

Data tables

The tables provide the total number of solicitors on the roll who hold a current Practising Certificate or are a Registered European Lawyer or a Registered Foreign Lawyer. The actual numbers are also shown as a percentage of the known solicitor population.

Practising population by Age & Gender Male Female Combined Gender
22—30 7,496 (6%) 13,120 (10%) 20,616
31—40 20,604 (16%) 24,690 (19%) 45,294
41—50 19,361 (15%) 14,463 (11%) 33,824
51—60 14,615 (11%) 6,322 (6%) 20,937
61—65 4,829 (3%) 868 (1%) 5,697
65+ 2,780 (2%) 263 (0%) 3,043
Unknown 292 (0%) 77 (0%) 369
Total 69,977 (54%) 59,803 (46%) 129,780
Solicitor Population by Age & Gender
Pyramid chart showing ratio of men to women by age

Key findings

The graph above illustrates that in previous years the solicitor population was largely dominated by males. This can be seen from the much larger percentages for male solicitors over the age of 40. However, the graph also indicates that there is a greater percentage of younger female solicitors in the profession.

Practising population by Ethnicity & Gender Male Female Combined Gender
Asian 3,981 (3%) 4,705 (4%) 8,686
Black 955 (1%) 1,567 (1%) 2,522
Chinese 489 (0%) 708 (1%) 1,197
Mixed 525 (0%) 765 (1%) 1,290
Other 862 (1%) 1,047 (1%) 1,909
White 53,826 (41%) 45,944 (35%) 99,770
Unknown 9,339 (7%) 5,067 (4%) 14,406
Total 69,977 (54%) 59,803 (46%) 129,780
Solicitor Population by Ethnicity & Gender
Pyramid chart showing ratio of men to women by ethnicity

Key findings

The above graph indicates that where ethnicity is known there is a greater proportion of BME female solicitors than BME male solicitors and this contrasts with the White solicitors where there are proportionally more males than females.

Practising population by Age & Known Ethnicity BME White Combined Known Ethnicity
22—30 3,412 (3%) 16,331 (14%) 19,743
31—40 7,120 (6%) 33,089 (29%) 40,209
41—50 3,762 (3%) 25,680 (22%) 29,442
51—60 1,063 (1%) 17,254 (15%) 18,317
61—65 136 (0%) 4,828 (4%) 4,964
65+ 103 (0%) 2,556 (2%) 2,659
Unknown 8 (0%) 32 (0%) 40
Total 15,604 (14%) 99,773 (86%) 115,374
Solicitor Population by Ethnicity & Age
Pyramid chart showing ratio of bme to white solicitors by age

Key findings

The above graph shows that in the last 30 years there has been an increase in the proportion of BME solicitors within the profession. For example, within the 51-60 age group BME solicitors accounted for 6% (1,063/18,317X100)of that age groups proportion whereas in the 22-30 age group BME solicitors account for 17% (3,412/19,743X100) of the age groups proportion.

Solicitor population – partner breakdowns

The following tables provide additional information in terms of how the partner and partner equivalent population is made up, showing the proportions of individuals within each group who were partners/partner equivalents as at 31 December 2011. All partners are counted regardless of the size of firm where they work so sole practitioners are included alongside partners in large city firms.

Data tables

Each individual is counted once

Partner / equivalent by Ethnicity   % who are partner / equivalent
BME 25%
Asian 27%
Black 25%
Chinese 21%
Mixed 13%
Other ethnic group 30%
White 32%
Ethnicity not known 46%
Total 33%
Partner / equivalent by Gender   % who are partner / equivalent
Female 18%
Male 45%
Total 33%
Partner / equivalent by Age   % who are partner / equivalent
22—30 2%
31—40 19%
41—50 48%
51—60 59%
61—65 57%
65+ 46%
Age not known 89%
Total 33%
Partner / equivalent by Disability   % who are partner / equivalent
Without a Disability 31%
With Disability 26%
Disability Status not known 34%
Total 33%

Data tables

The tables provide the total number of solicitors on the roll who hold a current Practising Certificate or are a Registered European Lawyer or a Registered Foreign Lawyer and are a partner or partner equivalent. The actual numbers are also shown as a percentage of the known partner population.

Practising population by Ethnicity 2011 population   Changes between 2009 and 2011
BME 3,538 (11%) Graph showing the number of BME vs White partners over the past three years
Asian 2,098 (6%)
Black 537 (2%)
Chinese 227 (1%)
Mixed 155 (0%)
Other ethnic group 521 (2%)
White 29,970 (89%)
Total of known Ethnicity 33,508
Ethnicity not known 6,015 (15%)
Total 39,523 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Practising population by Gender 2011 population   Changes between 2009 and 2011
Female 10,050 (25%) Graph showing the number of Male vs Female partners over the past three years
Male 29,473 (75%)
Total of known Gender 39,523
Gender not known 0
Total 39,523 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Practising population by Age 2011 population   Changes between 2009 and 2011
22—30 367 (1%) Graph showing the age of partners over the past three years
31—40 8,125 (21%)
41—50 15,165 (38%)
51—60 11,431 (29%)
61—65 2,898 (7%)
65+ 1,222 (3%)
Total of known Age 39,208
Age not known 315 (1%)
Total 39,523 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

Unlike most of the graphs within this document where the "Unknown" group has been excluded from the graphs the graph below includes this group due to the proportion of solicitors with a notified disability being so low. The graph below shows that between 2009 and 2011 the information we hold on solicitors relating to their disability status has improved with a reduction in the "Unknown" group being observed.

Practising population by Disability Status 2011 population   Changes between 2009 and 2011
With Disability 217 (1%) Graph showing the number of disabled partners over the past three years
Without a Disability 16,947 (43%)
Total of known Disability Status 17,164
Disability Status not known 22,359 (57%)
Total 39,523 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

The 2011 solicitor population data is based on population makeup at the end of 2011

Data tables

The tables provide the total number of solicitors on the roll who hold a current Practising Certificate or are a Registered European Lawyer or a Registered Foreign Lawyer. The actual numbers are also shown as a percentage of the known partner population.

Practising population by Age & Gender Male Female Combined Gender
22—30 192 (0%) 175 (0%) 367
31—40 5,282 (13%) 2,843 (7%) 8,125
41—50 10,925 (28%) 4,241 (11%) 15,166
51—60 9,085 (23%) 2,346 (6%) 11,431
61—65 2,603 (7%) 295 (1%) 2,898
65+ 1,131 (3%) 91 (0%) 1,222
Unknown 256 (1%) 59 (0%) 315
Total 29,474 (75%) 10,050 (25%) 39,524
Partner Equivalent Population by Age & Gender
Pyramid chart showing percent of male and female solicitors by age

Key findings

The above table and graph indicate that there is a disproportionate number of male partners or partner equivalents when compared to female partners or partner equivalents. Female solicitors make up 46% of the total solicitor profession but only 25% of the partner / partner equivalent population.

Solicitor population – partner breakdowns – pyramid charts

Practising population by Ethnicity & Gender Male Female Combined Gender
Asian 1,370 (3%) 728 (2%) 2,098
Black 308 (1%) 229 (1%) 537
Chinese 129 (0%) 98 (0%) 227
Mixed 95 (0%) 60 (0%) 155
Other 373 (1%) 148 (0%) 521
White 22,298 (56%) 7,672 (19%) 29,970
Unknown 4,900 (12%) 1,115 (3%) 6,015
Total 29,474 (75%) 10,050 (25%) 39,524
Partner Equivalent Population by Ethnicity & Gender
Pyramid chart showing percentage of ethnicity by age

Key findings

There are more male solicitors than female solicitors within each ethnic group.

Practising population by Age & Known Ethnicity BME White Combined Known Ethnicity
22—30 106 (0%) 243 (1%) 349
31—40 1,262 (4%) 5,594 (17%) 6,856
41—50 1,469 (4%) 11,415 (34%) 12,884
51—60 565 (2%) 9,300 (28%) 9,865
61—65 82 (0%) 2,410 (7%) 2,492
65+ 50 (0%) 995 (3%) 1,045
Unknown 4 (0%) 13 (0%) 17
Total 3,538 (11%) 29,972 (89%) 33,510
Partner Equivalent Population by Ethnicity & Gender
Pyramid chart showing percentage of BME vs White solicitors by age

Key findings

In contrast to White partner / partner equivalents there is a greater proportion of BME partner / partner equivalents in the 31-40 age group than the 51-60 age group.

Conduct & Regulatory Matters (Comparator Population)

The tables and graphs below provide the equality breakdown of those solicitors named against Conduct matters and Regulatory matters. This provides a more accurate comparator population than the whole practising profession.

Data tables

The tables that follow give a breakdown of individuals who were investigated against a Conduct or Regulatory matter. Each individual is counted once even if they appear in multiple investigations.

Conduct & regulatory matters by Ethnicity 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
BME 625 (27%)
Asian 325 (16%)
Black 170 (8%)
Chinese 9 (0%)
Mixed 18 (1%)
Other ethnic group 36 (2%)
White 1,494 (73%)
Total of known Ethnicity 2,052
Ethnicity not known 406 (17%)
Total 2,458 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Conduct & regulatory matters by Gender 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
Female 704 (29%)
Male 1,754 (71%)
Total of known Gender 2,715
Gender not known 0
Total 2,458 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Conduct & regulatory matters by Age 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
22—30 80 (3%)
31—40 567 (23%)
41—50 749 (31%)
51—60 628 (26%)
61—65 229 (9%)
65+ 165 (7%)
Total of known Age 2,418
Age not known 40 (2%)
Total 2,458 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

The disability status of a solicitor was as at 31/12/2011 and not necessarily their status as at the time the matter against them was created. This is because the disability of a solicitor is not captured within our case management system. Any information contained within this report which relates to the disability status of a solicitor is the disability status as at 31 December 2011.

Conduct & regulatory matters by Disability 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
With Disability 26 (1%)
Without a Disability 931 (38%)
Total of known Disability Status 957
Disability Status not known 1,501 (61%)
Total 2,458 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

Key findings

The data tables above would indicate that there is disproportionality in the reporting of misconduct and regulatory breaches to the SRA when compared to the total solicitor population. For the last 3 years there appears to have been a disproportionate number of Conduct and Regulatory matters for BME solicitors, male solicitors and solicitors over the age of 40 years old. New Conduct matters are predominantly created from allegations of misconduct from the profession itself, other regulatory or enforcement agencies, or from members of the public (referred to as lay informants). Regulatory matters are also created due to allegations from external parties but can also be created as a result of our interaction with the solicitor population in the course of our regulatory activities.

The proportion of BME solicitors being reported to the SRA for misconduct or for potentially breaching the regulatory principles has remained relatively stable for the years 2010 and 2011. This is after a year on year increase from 2008 to 2010.

Although the proportions of each age band remain relatively stable year on year with the largest numbers being within the age groups of 31-40, 41-50 and 51-60 there has been a yearly increase in the proportion attributable to the 22-30 age group and the 31-40 age group.

New Conduct Matters

Every time that we receive information alleging that a solicitor has breached the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct, a new ‘conduct matter’ is opened. The following tables show the number of solicitors involved in all new conduct matters opened in 2011. The outcomes of conduct investigations which were closed during 2011 are shown later in this report.

Data tables

The tables that follow give a breakdown of individuals who were investigated. Each individual is counted once even if they appear in multiple investigations.

New conduct matters by Ethnicity 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
BME 311 (27%)
Asian 179 (15%)
Black 96 (8%)
Chinese 7 (1%)
Mixed 7 (1%)
Other ethnic group 22 (2%)
White 854 (73%)
Total of known Ethnicity 1,165
Ethnicity not known 229 (16%)
Total 1,394 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
New conduct matters by Gender 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
Female 400 (29%)
Male 994 (71%)
Total of known Gender 1,394
Gender not known 0
Total 1,394 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
New conduct matters by Age 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
22—30 49 (4%)
31—40 323 (24%)
41—50 443 (32%)
51—60 348 (25%)
61—65 126 (9%)
65+ 83 (6%)
Total of known Age 1,372
Age not known 22 (2%)
Total 1,394 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
New conduct matters by Disability 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
With Disability 14 (1%)
Without a Disability 541 (39%)
Total of known Disability Status 555
Disability Status not known 839 (60%)
Total 1,394 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

Key findings

When comparing the information in the tables above to the ‘Comparator Population’ (which includes both the new conduct matters and the new regulatory matters) the figures are broadly similar. The reporting of Conduct matters, which are predominantly created from allegations of misconduct from the profession itself, other regulatory or enforcement agencies, or from members of the public (referred to as lay informants), continues to show a disproportionate number of matters for BME solicitors, male solicitors and solicitors over the age of 40 years old.

Closed Conduct / Outcomes within SRA

Conduct matters open by the SRA can result in one of five possible outcomes which are shown in the data tables below as categories A to E.

Category B (upheld) and C (not upheld) refer to conduct investigations which have been concluded one way or the other by a decision of the SRA.

Category D (referred to the SDT/ongoing action) is made up of:

  • individuals referred for disciplinary action by the SRA to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
  • matters closed because the allegations are being pursued through other ongoing action (for example where a new conduct report is added to an existing SDT case).

Category E (other) includes matters which were initially closed but have since been reopened for further investigation; or matters closed without any investigation e.g. because the allegations fall outside the SRA’s jurisdiction.

Category A (summary closures) includes allegations that were provided to the SRA which upon initial assessment were found to have no evidence of misconduct or the details of this allegation were added into another ongoing matter. In these instances the matter is closed without any further investigation.

Data tables

Each individual is counted under each matter where they are listed as a subject individual in order that we can provide a breakdown by outcome. This is in contrast to the figures for subjects of new conduct allegations where each individual is just counted once.

In our systems, there is one outcome recorded for each conduct matter even though a conduct matter may involve a number of individuals. Where the allegations are upheld in relation to one or more individuals, the outcome for that matter will be recorded as 'upheld' even if there are individuals who have not had the allegations upheld against them. Although our records for each individual will be accurate, when producing data about the outcomes of conduct matters, the numbers of solicitors shown in the 'upheld' column or the 'referred to SDT' column will not accurately reflect the number of solicitors found individually responsible. For example, if an investigation involves four solicitors and only one solicitor is referred to the SDT, the outcome for that matter will be recorded in the 'referred to SDT' column and the number of solicitors will automatically be recorded as four because four individuals are recorded against that matter. The table below summarises the outcomes for individuals of these conduct matters (please see the explanation above):

Category of outcome No. of individuals against matters Percentage breakdown
A. Summary Closures 823 22%
B. Allegation Upheld 415 11%
C. Allegation Not Upheld 1,585 42%
D. Referred to SDT / ongoing action 538 14%
E. Other 442 12%
Total 3,803 100%

The data in the tables below show the proportion of matters which were summary closed (823 in row A) and the proportion of matters which were either upheld (415 in row B) or not upheld (1,585 in row C). This provides a more meaningful picture of the proportion of individuals who had allegations against them upheld or not upheld by the SRA, as files referred elsewhere for a final decision have been excluded.

Rather than a percentage breakdown which is used on the other tables within this report, this outcome analysis shows the percentage upheld and percentage not upheld for each group as well as the percentage of matters which were summary closed. For example, of the 234 Asian solicitors involved in conduct investigations which we closed in 2011, the investigation was not upheld for 196 of them (84 percent). The proportions of each group who are subject to each outcome can therefore be compared against one another. Please see the notes on the previous page in relation to these data tables.

Conduct investigations closed 2011 by Ethnicity

A: Summary Closed

A + B + C: Total

B: Upheld

C: Not upheld

B + C: Total
No. % Summary Closed No. No. % upheld No. % not upheld No.
BME 134 25% 531 75 19% 322 81% 397
Asian 85 27% 319 38 16% 196 84% 234
Black 36 22% 162 28 22% 98 78% 126
Chinese 2 22% 9 3 43% 4 78% 7
Mixed 3 23% 13 3 30% 7 70% 10
Other ethnic group 8 29% 28 3 15% 17 85% 20
White 579 30% 1,917 284 21% 1,054 79% 1,338
Ethnicity not known 110 29% 375 56 21% 209 79% 265
Total 823 29% 2,823 415 21% 1,585 79% 2,000
Conduct investigations closed 2011 by Gender A: Summary Closed A + B + C: Total B: Upheld C: Not upheld B + C: Total
No. % Summary Closed No. No. % upheld No. % not upheld No.
Female 220 29% 753 98 18% 435 82% 533
Male 603 29% 2,070 317 22% 1,150 78% 1,467
Total 823 29% 2,823 415 21% 1,585 79% 2,000
Conduct investigations closed 2011 by Age A: Summary Closed A + B + C: Total B: Upheld C: Not upheld B + C: Total
No. % Summary Closed No. No. % upheld No. % not upheld No.
22—30 32 28% 114 9 11% 73 89% 82
31—40 135 28% 489 69 19% 285 81% 354
41—50 250 28% 885 142 22% 493 78% 635
51—60 225 28% 797 124 22% 448 78% 572
61—65 71 27% 264 41 21% 152 79% 193
65+ 96 40% 239 26 18% 117 82% 143
Age not known 14 40% 35 4 19% 17 81% 21
Total 823 29% 2,823 415 21% 1,585 79% 2,000
Conduct investigations closed 2011 by Disability A: Summary Closed A + B + C: Total B: Upheld C: Not upheld B + C: Total
No. % Summary Closed No. No. % upheld No. % not upheld No.
With Disability 13 39% 33 3 15% 17 85% 20
Without a Disability 318 27% 1,184 188 28% 678 72% 866
Disability Status not known 492 31% 1,606 224 20% 890 80% 1,114
Total 823 29% 2,823 415 21% 1,585 79% 2,000

Key findings

The tables show that BME solicitors are less likely to have their matters ‘Summary Closed’. Solicitors over the age of 65 are more likely to have their matters ‘Summary Closed’.

A smaller proportion of matters investigated by the SRA are being ‘Upheld’ when compared to previous years. The proportion of investigations being 'Upheld' had previously been consistent over the 3 years 2008 to 2010 with the percentage for 2010 being 27 percent. However, the proportion of investigations being ‘Upheld’ in 2011 has seen a reduction. The percentage of investigations being ‘Upheld’ in 2011 is 21%.

There have been relatively similar proportions of cases 'Upheld' for white individuals and for BME individuals indicating proportionality in decision-making with regard to ethnicity. BME solicitors are marginally less likely to have their matter ‘Upheld’ than White solicitors. There are variations between different ethnic groups but the numbers are too small to draw wider conclusions.

Investigations involving female solicitors have been 'Upheld' in proportionally fewer instances than men. This is a consistent trend over the last 3 years. In addition, investigations involving solicitors aged 22-30 have been 'Upheld' in proportionally fewer instances than other age groups. Again, this a consistent trend over the last 3 years.

Interventions

An intervention is where the SRA takes control of a firm's practice, or part of a firm's practice, that the SRA believes is putting the interests of clients at risk. An intervention is not a disciplinary outcome for the individuals involved, but a regulatory step designed to protect clients’ interest and client money. It may be that individuals from the firm intervened into are subjected to separate conduct investigations, although that data is not provided in the following tables.

The effect of an intervention in most circumstances is to close down the practice of the firm. It is an extremely serious regulatory action which is authorised by statute, and reserved for situations such as suspected dishonesty, abandonment of practice, breaches of the Solicitors Accounts Rules or incapacity due to illness or accident.

Data tables

An intervention is recorded against one or more partners of a firm (or members of an LLP, or directors of a company) who have overall responsibility for the practice. The tables that follow relate to the 62 interventions which took place during 2011, involving a total of 76 individuals. Each individual is counted once even if they appear in multiple interventions. Of the 76 individuals involved in an intervention 52 were sole practitioners with the remaining 24 solicitors being a partner or partner equivalent in a 2-3 partner firm.

Interventions by Ethnicity 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
BME 20 (30%)
Asian 9 (14%)
Black 11 (17%)
Chinese 0 (0%)
Mixed 0 (0%)
Other ethnic group 0 (0%)
White 46 (70%)
Total of known Ethnicity 66
Ethnicity not known 10 (13%)
Total 76 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Interventions by Gender 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
Female 17 (22%)
Male 59 (78%)
Total of known Gender 76
Gender not known 0
Total 76 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Interventions by Age 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
22—30 3 (4%)
31—40 13 (17%)
41—50 20 (26%)
51—60 25 (33%)
61—65 10 (13%)
65+ 5 (7%)
Total of known Age 76
Age not known 0
Total 76 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Interventions By Disability 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
With Disability 0 (0%)
Without a Disability 30 (39%)
Total of known Disability Status 30
Disability Status not known 46 (61%)
Total 76 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

Key findings

When comparing against the comparator population there still appears to be some disproportionality in the number of BME solicitors being intervened into. However, 2011 saw a reduction in the proportion of interventions involving BME solicitors from 38 percent in 2010 to 30 percent in 2011. 61 of the firms intervened into were 1 and 2 partner firms, with 1 being a 3-partner firm. This may in part account for the disproportionality for BME solicitors who are known to be over represented in firms of this size.

Male solicitors are more likely to be intervened into than female solicitors. This is likely to be expected as there are a greater percentage of male solicitors who are a partner or partner equivalent within a firm.

Over the last 3 years there has been an increase in the proportion of interventions involving solicitors of the 51-60 age group.

Referrals to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

In serious cases of misconduct, the SRA may decide to refer a solicitor to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal(SDT) which is an independent tribunal that adjudicates upon alleged breaches of the rules of professional conduct for solicitors. Not every solicitor referred to the SDT by the SRA will proceed to an SDT hearing, in some cases the SRA will reach a regulatory settlement agreement with the solicitor.

Individuals may be referred to the SDT in relation to several matters investigated by the SRA. The SDT has the power to strike individuals from the roll of solicitors, suspend a solicitor from practice and apply fines and reprimands. The tables do not provide any information about the outcome of the cases referred to the SDT. The outcome of SDT hearings and regulatory settlement agreements are usually published on the SRA website.

Data tables

Each individual is counted once even if they appear in multiple referrals.

Tribunal referrals by Ethnicity 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
BME 112 (35%)
Asian 60 (19%)
Black 40 (13%)
Chinese 3 (1%)
Mixed 2 (1%)
Other ethnic group 7 (2%)
White 206 (65%)
Total of known Ethnicity 318
Ethnicity not known 72 (18%)
Total 390 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Tribunal referrals by Gender 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
Female 81 (19%)
Male 309 (81%)
Total of known Gender 390
Gender not known 0
Total 390 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Tribunal referrals by Age 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
22—30 7 (2%)
31—40 76 (20%)
41—50 124 (32%)
51—60 117 (31%)
61—65 33 (9%)
65+ 25 (6%)
Total of known Age 382
Age not known 8 (2%)
Total 390 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Tribunal referrals by Disability 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
With Disability 3 (1%)
Without a Disability 159 (41%)
Total of known Disability Status 162
Disability Status not known 228 (58%)
Total 390 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

Key findings

Although decision-making regarding conduct matters which are 'Upheld' appears proportionate when comparing the BME ethnicity group against the White ethnicity group, a disproportionate number of BME solicitors have been referred to the SDT.

There is also disproportionality in the number of males being referred to the SDT.

Late Accountants’ Reports

Solicitors who fail to file an accountants’ report for their firm by the required date are required to give the SRA notice before applying for their next practising certificate and the SRA has a discretion in such cases to grant or refuse a practising certificate, or to place conditions on a solicitor’s practice. Responsibility for the delivery of these accounts lies with the partners (or equivalent) of a firm 'and where a firm's accountants report is filed late, the regulatory activity applies to all partners of the firm.

The regulatory activity described above is triggered for all late or outstanding submissions as compared to the other regulatory activities covered in this report where the SRA takes a risk based decision on whether or not to proceed.

All cases of late or outstanding accountants’ reports are included in the figures below, regardless of whether any further action was subsequently taken (such as the imposition of a practising condition).

Data tables

Each individual is counted once even if they appear against multiple late/outstanding reports.

Late Accountants’ Reports by Ethnicity 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
BME 105 (23%)
Asian 61 (13%)
Black 37 (8%)
Chinese 3 (1%)
Mixed 1 (0%)
Other ethnic group 3 (1%)
White 356 (77%)
Total of known Ethnicity 461
Ethnicity not known 74 (14%)
Total 535 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Late Accountants’ Reports by Gender 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
Female 158 (30%)
Male 377 (70%)
Total of known Gender 535
Gender not known 0
Total 535 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Late Accountants’ Reports by Age 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
22—30 8 (2%)
31—40 117 (22%)
41—50 175 (33%)
51—60 138 (26%)
61—65 56 (10%)
65+ 40 (7%)
Total of known Age 534
Age not known 1 (0%)
Total 535 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
Late Accountants’ Reports by Disability 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
With Disability 4 (1%)
Without a Disability 217 (41%)
Total of known Disability Status 221
Disability Status not known 314 (59%)
Total 535 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

Key findings

As the responsibility for the delivery of accountants reports lie with the partners (or equivalent) of a firm we must compare the proportions in the table above to the partner / partner equivalent population breakdown.

Late accountants' reports are generated as a direct result of actions or inaction from the profession as opposed to a decision taken by the SRA. There is disproportionality in the figures for BME partners / partner equivalents, female partners / partner equivalents, partners / partner equivalents over the age of 60 years old and partners / partner equivalents between the ages of 22—40.

Practising Certificate Conditions

Practising certificate conditions can be applied to solicitors, Registered European Lawyers or Registered Foreign Lawyers as a method of regulation. Conditions are placed onto a practising certificate or registration and can restrict the ability to practise, the type of work which can be undertaken or impose other requirements or limitations.

Data tables

The tables show the number of individuals who have had conditions applied. Although an individual may have multiple conditions, they are recorded once

PC conditions by Ethnicity 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
BME 133 (34%)
Asian 70 (18%)
Black 56 (14%)
Chinese 0 (0%)
Mixed 0 (0%)
Other ethnic group 7 (2%)
White 261 (66%)
Total of known Ethnicity 394
Ethnicity not known 65 (14%)
Total 459 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
PC conditions by Gender 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
Female 97 (21%)
Male 362 (79%)
Total of known Gender 459
Gender not known 0
Total 459 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
PC conditions by Age 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
22—30 2 (0%)
31—40 67 (15%)
41—50 168 (37%)
51—60 150 (33%)
61—65 38 (8%)
65+ 34 (7%)
Total of known Age 459
Age not known 0
Total 459 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011
PC conditions By Disability 2011 Total   Changes between 2009 and 2011
With Disability 3 (1%)
Without a Disability 211 (46%)
Total of known Disability Status 214
Disability Status not known 245 (53%)
Total 459 Legend for the graph in the cell above - showing light to dark blue form 2009, 2010, 2011

Key findings

There is disproportionality in the imposition of practising conditions for BME solicitors, male solicitors and solicitors between the ages of 40—60 years old.

Addressing disproportionality

Since 2008, when we started publishing our diversity monitoring reports, we have identified fairly consistent patterns of disproportionality for certain equality groups across a range of our regulatory activities, in particular BME solicitors, male solicitors and solicitors over the age of 40. We have been open and transparent with the profession about these findings and about our regulatory work - introducing transparency in our investigation work and our decision-making.

The report that we commissioned from Pearn Kandola gave us a better understanding of the areas where the disproportionality was most marked and we have been undertaking audits of our decision making across all these key areas over the past year. We published a report setting out our progress in implementing the recommendations and identified three key challenges:

  • Data recording and monitoring - continuing to improve the way we record and monitor our enforcement decisions;
  • Decision making - to continue to identify ways that we can improve the strength of our decision making to ensure that our decisions are fair and proportionate; and
  • How will record and monitor the outcomes of our work in supervising firms.

We are continuing to engage with the equality practitioners in the profession to address concerns and to seek to reassure the profession that our decision making is objective and free from bias. A review of our equality work in 2011 will be published later in the summer alongside a revised equality action plan for 2012/13. We will be looking at how we will be responding to some of the key areas of our regulatory activity where the disproportionate outcomes have presented consistent patterns of disproportionality.

Appendix One – ethnicity groups

Binary Group Level 1 Group Level 2 Group

White

White

British – English
British – Scottish
British – Welsh
White / European
British – other
Roma/Gypsy
British
Traveller of Irish Heritage
Irish
Any other white background

BME

Black

Caribbean
African
Any other Black background
Afro – Caribbean

Asian

Indian
Pakistani
Bangladeshi
Any other Asian background

Mixed

White and Black Caribbean
White and Black African
White and Asian
Any other mixed background

Chinese

Chinese
Any other Chinese background

Other

Any other
Asian / Chinese

Unknown

Unknown

Prefer not to say
Unknown