Equality, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession is important for many reasons, including:
maintaining high standards by allowing the most talented people to become solicitors and progress in their careers
supporting the rule of law and the effective administration of justice, as a diversity of views and approaches, whether in law firms or in the judiciary, supports an independent justice system
improving access to services as some people may be more likely to seek legal help from solicitors they share some social or cultural characteristics with.
The legal profession is changing and starting to reflect the diversity of wider society. However, more needs to be done to improve the representation of all groups, particularly in senior roles.
Our law firm diversity tool shows that entry into the profession is diverse but women, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and disabled lawyers continue to be under-represented at partner level, particularly in large firms.
BAME and disabled solicitors are more likely to work in smaller firms.
Solicitors that went to state schools, and were the first generation to go to university, are also more likely to work in small firms.
We continue to work with firms and other organisations to encourage a diverse and inclusive profession. For example, we held an event for Black History Month in October where panel members highlighted the benefits of mentoring to improve BAME diversity.
We have engaged with firms, academics and others about developing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) and innovative routes into the profession while maintaining standards. An independent review of the SQE proposals found that it should open up opportunities to access the profession, increase the potential for social mobility and support diversity.