Law firm trainee diversity on the up, according to regulator’s figures

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By Judge John Hack on

Smaller practices are outpacing larger firms, but across the board the profession is more diverse than the wider population


Large commercial law firms may be talking up their diversity programmes, but figures from the solicitors’ regulator show smaller practices are considerably more ethnically diverse.

But law firms across the board continue to perform well in ethnic trainee recruitment, having generally higher percentages than exist within the wider population.

Data from the Solicitors Regulation Authority, published by Legal Week magazine earlier today, show that on average 22.5% of trainees at the country’s largest law firms — those with more than 81 solicitors — were from ethnic minority backgrounds. That figure from 2014 increased significantly over recent years when it stood at 17.5%, according to the authority.

And the figure for ethnic minority trainees across the solicitors’ profession as a whole is reported to be just shy of 30%

When compared with the ethnic minority population in England as a whole, the solicitors’ profession appears to be doing rather well on the diversity front.

The overall profession is slightly more than 14 points above the national average of 15.5%. While the larger firms are 7 points above the percentage in the wider population.

However, both the profession as a whole and the larger firms still have some way to go before matching the percentage of the ethnic minority population in London. The figure in the capital currently stands at slightly more than 40% — or 10 points above the profession wide percentage of ethnic minority trainees and nearly 18 points above the figure for large firms.

The figures relating to gender also cast the solicitors’ profession in a reasonably favourable light. Across the sector, 61.6% of law firm trainees were women, or nearly 11 points above the percentage of women in the population as a whole. At larger firms, nearly 58% of trainees were women.