One third of legal professionals believe their firm could do more to help disadvantaged young people

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By Thomas Connelly on

But charity-backed research shows finance is far worse

New research has suggested that 34% of legal professionals feel that their firm could do more to help disadvantaged young people trying to break through into the profession.

When asked how well their business supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access jobs, 59% answered “well”. Seven percent of respondents said they were unsure as to how well their firm is helping to support social mobility, leaving 34% to select “not well”.

By way of comparison, 44% in finance and accounting claim that their place of business is not supporting disadvantaged young people “well”. The top performers are construction and IT: in both sectors just 31% think their business isn’t pulling its weight when it comes to social mobility.

Interestingly, almost 22% of those working in law feel that it is the government’s responsibility to improve social mobility. While a further 19% suggest it is up to schools and colleges, just 7% said that the onus is on universities to tackle the problem. Twenty-six percent of respondents said that they didn’t think any one group has the most responsibility.

The survey — which questioned over 1,000 “senior decision makers” across a plethora of business sectors — was complied by YouGov and published by the education charity Sutton Trust and Deutsche Bank earlier today. Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said that the “research shows that it is very difficult for young people from low and middle income backgrounds to access” rewarding careers.

Social mobility in the law, or rather the lack of, has been a problem that’s rumbled on for some years. Data published by the Social Mobility Commission (SMC) earlier this year suggested that solicitors from “affluent backgrounds” will earn on average £6,800 more than colleagues from “poorer” ones. The SMC — a government body which promotes and monitors progress in social mobility — suggested that the pay disparity could be because solicitors from disadvantaged backgrounds are “less likely to ask for pay rises, have less access to networks and work opportunities or, in some cases, exclude themselves from promotion for fear of not ‘fitting in’”.

Read the survey results in full below:

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