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‘Introduce quotas for state school educated barristers and judges,’ suggests Guardian journalist

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Ellie Mae O’Hagan tells Legal Cheek she hopes column will help ‘address the problem of elitism’

An influential journalist has proposed radical action on social mobility in the legal profession, stating: “Quotas might seem like a desperate measure, but these are desperate times.”

Writing in The Guardian, Ellie Mae O’Hagan fumes that “so many members of our ruling elite have been picked from a tiny class of privileged individuals” — a statement that’s hard to deny in the law profession context.

Data from last year reveals 74% of judges and 71% of barristers are privately educated, which is pretty mental considering just 7% of the population went to an independent school. The stats, screenshotted below, also show 51% of solicitors attended a fee-paying school.

Lead

So, what to do about it? O’Hagan says:

Instead of collectively rolling our eyes every time a new report on these statistics comes out, let’s introduce quotas. If 7% of the population goes to private school, then it seems only fair that 7% of Britain’s elite jobs should go to privately educated individuals. This would include chief executives, barristers, journalists, judges, medical professionals and MPs.

O’Hagan admits this action is drastic, but: “if you’re worried about hundreds of state-educated people suddenly taking up elite roles, just ask yourself: can they really do a worse job than the people in charge now?”

The social media reaction to O’Hagan’s piece has been at best mixed. Though law graduate and journalist Robert Verkaik said the article was “brave” and “well argued”, others weren’t quite so complimentary:

Others have used O’Hagan’s piece as fuel for their anti-Guardian fire:

Eyebrow raises about the notably left-wing newspaper’s staff diversity is long-standing. In 2016, The Spectator published an article called: ‘If the Guardian dislikes privately educated Oxbridge types, why does it hire so many?’

However, O’Hagan seems far from fazed by these Guardian-directed comments. Speaking to Legal Cheek this morning, she said:

If the best argument that people can come up with is pointing out that there are lot of privately educated journalists, I think they’re making my argument for me. It’s good that the Guardian was willing to give me a platform to start this debate and I hope it will lead to a fruitful conversation about how we can address the problem of elitism in this country.

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76 Comments

Anonymous

“Influential journalist”? Guardian clickbait more like.

(29)(2)

Anonymous

“Pretty mental”? Really?

(6)(0)

Anonymous

A similar quota introduced for The Guardian newspaper would thin their ranks considerably!

•George Monbiot, Stowe School
•Polly Toynbee, Badminton School
•Andrew Rawnsley, Rugby School
•Jonathan Freedland, University College School
•Zoe Williams, Godolphin and Latymer Girls School
•Tanya Gold, Kingston Grammar School (Independent)
•Marina Hyde, Downe House for Girls
•Bidisha Bandyopadhyay, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls
•Peter Bradshaw, Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School
•David Mitchell, Abingdon School
•Timothy Garton-Ash, Sherborne School
•John Hooper, St Benedict’s School
•Sam Leith, Eton College
•Peter Preston, Loughborough Grammar School (Independent)
•Simon Jenkins, Mill Hill School
•Richard Norton-Taylor, Kings School, Canterbury
•Clare Armitstead, Bedales
•Ben Goldacre, Magdalen College School
•Martin Wainwright, Shrewsbury School
•Victoria Coren, various independent schools
•Hadley Freeman, “boarding school in Cambridge”
•Matthew d’Ancona, St Dunstan’s College
•Former Editor Alan Rusbridger and occasional contributor, Cranleigh School

(24)(0)

Ex-teacher

Reluctant to comment on this when LC are hoping for a comment frenzy.

What I will say though is that, generally speaking, our state schools offer a woeful education to their students.

This is the main cause of this inequality.

(35)(6)

Anonymous

Some good state schools are better than some mediocre private schools.

(9)(0)

Ex-teacher

‘generally speaking’.

Otherwise true, although you will find that most of the few good state schools typically have a small number of kids on free schools meals, as well as a tiny catchment area which inflates local house prices and leads to selection by wealth rather than ability.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Journalism? An ‘elite job’? Lol

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Katie, Alex and Tom have to make themselves feel better that they didn’t make it… Although I think it’s tosh that 55% of solicitors went to Oxbridge

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Why are we so surprised that the state can’t provide as good an education as the private sector when each state place has a fraction of the funding? Spending more on a child’s education helps better prepare them for life, it would be odd if this wasn’t the case.

(9)(4)

Ex-teacher

Take a look at the countries above us in the OECD rankings.

Nearly all of them spend less on education per pupil than the UK.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

That’s because (some not all) state schools are woefully inefficient at using their funding compared to other countries, focusing on soft teaching methods and poster making as has already been correctly pointed out.

Not that it’s the schools’ individual faults, this mistake is made at a much more centralised level by the progressive crowd who abhor anything traditional (including teaching methods).

(5)(2)

Ex-teacher

^100% this

(3)(1)

concerned educator

do you know that teachers (O levels and below) aren’t allowed to make their students write more than 15 minutes? they are instead encouraged to find other ways to keep students’ interest lest they get bored. really?!

and people wonder why we produce sub-par students

(5)(5)

Anonymous

When was the last time you actually educated anybody?

O-levels were replaced YEARS ago by GCSEs.

(7)(1)

Ex-teacher

What ‘concerned educator’ said was an exaggeration, but (s)he was right to point out that the main aim of teachers is to keep kids pleased and engaged in the hope that this will motivate them to learn more.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m yet to see a pupil pick up a history book voluntarily after making a poster on WW2.

(3)(0)

concerned educator

sorry I just betrayed my age there…

I just find it incredible that schools are not equipping students with basic academic skills – like read and write for more than 15 minutes.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Maybe a private education can place someone in better stead for a career but your comment that it can ‘better prepare them for life’ is ridiculous compared to the adversity that can be encountered through public education. Whilst I have nothing against private education, being mixed with the diverse cultural and economic backgrounds one finds in a public school is invaluable to life learning and creates well rounded, balanced, tolerant human beings

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Do you have any evidence to back up that second sentence?

The fact that prisoners are disproportionately more likely to be state educated than privately educated would suggest you are wrong.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

That is an extreme. The other extreme is somebody who is privately educated and has lived a sheltered life to the point that they can not properly engage with people from different backgrounds. Obviously they can to some extent, but as somebody is not privately educated I can tell when a private-type is coming across that way. The kind of person that would turn their nose up at prisoners even in this modern era (and, tongue in cheek, the kind of person who would have perhaps had their own prisoners a century or two ago)

(2)(0)

Anonymous

You say they are both extremes. So the choice is between being a prisoner or a snob. I think most people would rather be a snob.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

But the context is privately educated vs publicly educated professional. Neither are going to go to jail. Some may be snobs.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Ok. But as a parent it’s far easier to keep your children grounded whilst sending them to private school than putting them in the state system and them receiving a good education.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Quotas are divisive and only create barriers, resentment and “us vs them” mentality. Merits based recruitment is the fairest way of going about these things. Sorry guardian – back to your ivory tower.

(17)(2)

Anonymous

Funny how merit so often means “privately educated”.

(11)(8)

Anonymous

State educated does not mean that a student can’t do absolutely everything the privately educated kids can do when they get to university.

List of activities that require you to be privately educated to take part:
– NONE.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

It doesn’t mean you can’t, but it does mean that you are less likely to have the opportunity to. Cricket or golf equipment is not cheap when you are struggling to put the pennies together for your course fees and own-brand supermarket noodles. Then you get punished again for having one less hobby on the CV.

(3)(4)

O. Twist, State Educated

Didn’t get a TC coz I couldn’t afford a 9 iron…

(24)(1)

Anonymous

Or, more generally, “has enough money for advantages such as private education.”

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This is a ridiculous suggestion. Quotas should not be involved until there is clear evidence of discrimination again people from state educated backgrounds.

I am from a state educated background myself and I firmly believe that those who get the jobs nowadays are those who perform the best. It is true privately educated students perform better because they have a better education; so they are the ones who get the jobs. There is nothing wrong with that.

Positive discrimination is NEVER the way forward unless there is actually a ban placed on access to the profession by students from our background. This absolutely ridiculous idea could potentially result in the hiring of subpar candidates just to meet quotas.

(20)(7)

Anonymous

Which happens a lot at certain city firms already.

(2)(7)

Anonymous

I’m at a City firm. I can assure you, only those who perform well get offered TCs. We’ve rejected many Oxbridge and privately educated candidates. Their secondary education doesn’t actually come into it unless they received 3 Cs.

I tried my hardest but slipped in my A-Levels, they ignored that as I pushed at degree level.

Loving the Legal Cheek jobless attacking the sad truth.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

You don’t think the massive disproportionality of privately educated individuals in influential professions is already prima facie evidence of discrimination? Seriously, people who are privately educated can’t all, to that extent, just be innately more talented.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The cycle just gets worse if you don’t step in and do something about it. 7% for 7% seems drastic, but put a small but attainable target in place (based on the % of applicants) and it is progress.

(4)(2)

Elite school Elite Uni Elite Firm ELITE LIFE

We’re going to have a lot of dumb-ass judges then.

(8)(3)

Dublin BL

Bring back the Grammar School system. There is no greater engine of social mobility.

(13)(5)

Just Anonymous

Hey everyone, I’m your heart surgeon today! Yes, just started last week. Was I the best candidate for the job? Well, probably not. I’m actually rather clumsy, and I never did work out the difference between the spleen and the pancreas.

But hey, I didn’t go to private school, and we all know how important it is to ensure that 93% of our elite surgeons didn’t go to private school.

So if you’d just care to pop your clothes on the chair there. NURSE, which end do I cut with again?

(38)(6)

Anonymous

Brilliant example! Cannot stop laughing.

This is the devastating result of positive discrimination (quotas).

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Comparing a lead heart surgeon to a trainee lawyer is a really great analogy. I applause, you must have gone to a really good school. Who is your father? *checks key client list* – you should apply for a training contract here at Wills McGenius Schroder LLP.

(5)(22)

Just Anonymous

That awkward moment when your ‘joke’ falls flat, because it depends on knowing the identity of the father of an anonymous individual on the internet…

(20)(3)

Anonymous

Your example is still crap.

(4)(13)

Just Anonymous

Devastating analysis. I am humbled and chastened.

(14)(3)

Anonymous

Especially as he can’t construct a sentence..

(8)(3)

Anonymous

OH NO,; – the grammar police!

;l

(2)(4)

Anonymous

There’s a fair bit of shooting the messenger in the criticism of the piece.

(2)(0)

Tim

“pretty mental”

HOW DARE YOU MAKE FUN OF THE MENTALLY DISABLED

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Guardian “journalist”

HEH!

(3)(0)

Anonymous

In what way is she an ‘influential journalist’?

(5)(0)

Diane Julie Abbott MP

Hi,

I went to a state school and can’t read or write very well. Plz can I have a job?

(17)(1)

Titus Trombolus

Yeah, let’s just let any old riff-raff in.

Requirements: School trips to Southend, rather than South Africa.

(9)(4)

State-educated non-lawyer

I would love to see 7% of road sweepers, shop assistants, call centre workers, security guards, barristers’ clerks, etc. come from private education. They would be as out of their depth as the proposed 93% state-educated judiciary. What fun that would be to watch!

(5)(4)

Anonymous

“No, I’m afraid there won’t be anyone imposing the Party’s parliamentary candidate this year, unfortunately, we found out that the other candidates were Elites and they had to be, ah, removed. No, you won’t have read about it in the papers, we’ve got rid of all the Elite journalists who might have wanted to write about that sort of thing. What? Well, I don’t suppose it matters much whether this is legal or not – we remove judges if they show signs of Elitism, and a finding against these laws which protect our citizens from the Elites would be a dead giveaway…”

Utter drivel, and I say this as someone who is in favour of quotas in a lot of contexts.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

*opposing

But seriously, this argument is stupid not because it would not be a good idea to reduce inequality, but because it is essentially arguing that the executive should be given control over who should be allowed to join the legislature and the judiciary. I hope that no matter where one falls on the political spectrum one can see that this is a monumentally fucking terrible idea.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

We won’t have to worry about this as much after Brexit after all the Europeans stop stealing our training contracts. There will be plenty of space for lots of good British trainees, regardless of whether they are privately or publicly educated or not. There is hope 🙂

(1)(1)

N. Farage

Pint later..?

(12)(0)

Jones Day de-equitized partner

Judging by comment, you probably won’t make it regardless of whether Europeans are competing with you.

Of course, there are other ways you can score a contract…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Score..?

We say ‘bagged’ on here – bloody yanks..

(7)(0)

Jones Day de-equitized partner

Oh I’m sorry. I forgot we pushed you out of the States and then went on to become the GREAT NATION ON THE FACE OF THIS PLANET.

‘MURICA

(1)(0)

Anonymous

I will do anything for a training contract Mr Jones Day partner. Maybe we can discuss in more detail, go ahead and slide into my DMs.

(0)(0)

City NQ

Yes, there is a stigma attached to private education in that it opens doors – nothing else. I was state educated, and all of my now friends were privately educated. Funny that we all mix in the same circles and hold similar jobs with like wages etc. We’re just more in touch with the real world and managed to untie ourselves from mummy’s apron strings before the age of 18…

We have partners’ kids here for work experience, and trust me they would never be hired. They haven”t got a clue of life in the real world stepping outside the private education system in Hampstead…

You work with the tools you’re given. Just because you are state educated does not prevent you from holding 11 GCSE’s and going on to get decent A Levels. You get to Uni and you’re all on a level playing field. Many of my state friends went on to top 10 unis…

We all know a few of those privately educated “lads” that had their first pint at Uni when on the cricket social… unfortunately you just have to put up with their bores in our profession…

(6)(4)

Anonymous

You high? This is all over the place…

(4)(1)

Anonymous

‘You work with the tools you are given’

Very true, I work with a very large number of tools….

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Great, get a bunch of thickos on the bench… Is this the idiot who proposed 100% inheritance tax a few weeks ago?

(0)(2)

Anonymous

100% IHT would be a bit much, but 80-90% above something like 50k is perfectly reasonable.

(1)(7)

Darth Bellend-Smythe MA(Oxon)

The arrogant prickery Force is strong with this thread

(2)(1)

Anonymous

The law isn’t meant for the ‘casuals’ of this world; keep them down the mines whilst us
1%ers earn some real crust.

(10)(1)

ChipOnMy

People like you are what is wrong with the profession – I am personally proud of the fact that I went to a state school and went on trips to Grimsby and Slough. This gave me the platform to excel at Falmouth University in joint honours of media and basket-weaving.

All this real life experience landed me a sweet TC at a top top firm in Ipswich. So take your silver spoon and shove it!

(11)(1)

Anonymous

Much like Cameron, I was born with two silver spoons in my mouth. I shall clink them together in rhythmic fashion whilst you saunter down in your primark suit and clarks shoes to your flourishing career at CopOut & Slacker LLP, you ruffian.

(7)(0)

ChipOnMy

Just shows how little you know – I actually closed a whopping £32,000 deal last week, the biggest my department has ever seen.

And, I’ll have you know that I actually have a Moss Bros suit – black, brown shoes and wide tie.

So why don’t you go back to sucking on the corporate c*** at Probe, Sphincter & Swallow LLP.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Considering a methuselah of Dom. P at Mahiki sets me back a cool £11k, I dread to think where your shop takes you for its Christmas party if it brings in penny deals like that…Greggs for a sausage roll and a sloppy blozza J round by the bins?

And i’ll have you know that Butcher & Genocide LLP eats pieces of shit like you for breakfast

(5)(0)

ChipOnMy

Well I hope you’re happy. At my office, we are encouraged to leave at 5:30 on the dot! It means I can spend plenty of time with my kids, Piffle and Dirk, (both ginger; my wife and I are both dark haired). Whilst you’re slogging away chained to your desk for 80 hours a week, I’m out watching the two red haired wonders pick up their participation medals at their state school sports days. Couldn’t be prouder.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

I think I saw you walking your beta children to school as I boshed past in my fhackin’ juggernaut Rangey to take Monty and Hector to watch the cricky at Lords. Grandescunt aucta labore mother fucker.

(3)(0)

ChipOnMy

I bet Monty and Hector are shipped off to boarding school as early as possible – surprised you’ve seen them this side of 18. At least they’ll be well rounded young gentlemen when they come out.. Don’t be alarmed when they start showering together at home and bellowing ‘POWER SHOWER’ at the top of their lungs, as we all know what that means….

Anonymous

Fuck off you lefty liberal. It’s jealous scum like you who secretly WISHES Boris and David blew their beans all over your chest during a scurrilous and overzealous stint of soggy biscuit back at school.

Besides, everyone knows you unload the heirs onto Nanny Pilchard at birth, greet them at eighteen with a firm handshake and then watch them fly the nest. That’s the Eton trajectory, but you wouldn’t know that would you? You were too busy receiving hand outs from the state.

Not That Anonymous

The blatant use of the term beta in this above posting ‘ere exposes this ‘comedian’ (and I use the term in its very loosest sense) as our very own beloved Trumpenkrieg.

Outed !!

Anonymous

God, she’s so posh, that I, Mark Corrigan, who was privately educated until dad’s British Aerospace shares went kaput, could be her bit of rough!

(2)(0)

Anonymous

It is fairly evident even from looking at this (quite frankly disgusting) comment section that there is a huge schism in attitude between privately educated and state educated pupils that has become a catalyst for most social arguments and divides today.

(3)(2)

Comments are closed.