‘More still needs to be done’ says regulator as latest stats reveal almost a QUARTER of lawyers attended fee paying schools

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By Thomas Connelly on

This rises to 37% for partners in large law firms


It is a case of “more still needs to be done” according to the solicitor’s regulator, as a comprehensive survey of over 9,000 law firms has revealed that almost a quarter of lawyers attended fee paying schools.

Releasing the result of its diversity survey this morning, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has confirmed — perhaps unsurprisingly — that a “disproportionate” number of lawyers were privately educated.

Despite only 7% of the general population attending a private school, the survey discovered that 22% of lawyers attended a fee paying school. And this figure rises to 37% at firms with fifty partners ore more. It would appear the more partners you have the more likely each one of them will have been privately educated.

In slightly more positive news, the survey showed that almost a half of lawyers (47%) were women. However this figure drops to just one third (33%) at partner level. Again perhaps unsurprisingly — given the latest round of disappointing female partner promotions — this percentage drops even further, to just 27%, when limited to large law firms with of over fifty partners.

It is also worth noting that more than half the profession (53%) is made up of individuals who are the first generation from their family to attend university. And this rises to 60% at partner level.

According to the stats, black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) lawyers accounted for 18% of the sector. Breaking this group down, the SRA stated there was an “under representation” of black lawyers within the legal profession (only 3%). However, in comparison, Asian lawyers are over-represented, comprising 12% of the legal profession, compared to 7% of the wider UK population.

Interestingly, according to the SRA, BAME lawyers are twice as likely to work for small firms — consisting of two to five partners — than one with fifty plus partners. The statistics also showed that BAME lawyers are less likely to become partners at large firms. Despite 3% of partners at small firms being black lawyers, this percentage drops to a worryingly low 1% in larger firms.

In the wake of the SRA’s third diversity survey — that received over 170,000 respondents from legal professionals, up by 10,000 on last year — Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said:

Encouraging diversity in legal services is not about ticking boxes. It is of course the right thing to do, but it also helps to make sure the sector is as competitive as possible. There should not be any barriers stopping the best people — whatever their background — thriving in law.