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 becoming 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.
  • But larger firms (50+ partners) have 27% female partners compared with 35% for smaller firms (2 to 5 partners).
  • BAME individuals make up 18% of all lawyers, which is higher than the census data for economically active people (13%).
  • But Black people are under- represented (2% of lawyers compared to 3% of economically active people).
  • Larger firms have the lowest proportion of BAME partners, in particular Asian partners make up just 4% compared with 16% in smaller firms.
  • 26% of partners went to a fee paying school compared to 19% of non-partners. The gap is higher still for partners in the larger firms where 37% went to fee paying schools compared with 23% in smaller firms.

Actions

  • Law firms can embed EDI into their culture, so that everyone has the opportunity to progress in their legal career. Creating an inclusive culture can help individuals and groups feel valued, respected and supported.
  • Firms can consider getting involved in initiatives such as the Legal Social Mobility Partnership.
  • We have commissioned research that uses our data to look at the career progression of female, black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors. This will help us understand how their representation in senior roles can be improved.
  • We are committed to promoting good practice in equality and diversity 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's Diversity Legal Awards.

Further information