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Research: Far more private school kids at corporate firms than in crime

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State school educated underrepresented across the board

New data has further confirmed the legal profession’s social mobility problem, revealing corporate law firms are particularly dominated by privately-educated lawyers.

The statistics, recently released by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), show firms which mainly do corporate work have the lowest proportion of state-educated solicitors, 56%. By contrast, 76% of lawyers in firms that mainly do litigation work are from state schools, while this figure’s 77% for mainly-criminal outfits.

Even within these more representative practice areas, the percentage of state-schooled solicitors is considerably lower than the percentage of state-schooled people generally. Twenty-two percent of all lawyers attended fee-paying schools, the SRA data says, compared with 7% of the general population.

Image credit: Solicitors Regulation Authority

Concerns about social mobility in the law certainly aren’t exclusive to solicitors.

Just weeks ago, Legal Cheek reported on statistics produced by the bar regulator which showed 12% of barristers attended a UK independent school. However, the response rate to this question was just 37%, meaning the percentage of privately-educated barristers is almost certainly higher.

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The profession, seemingly keen to end its social mobility problem, has thrown its weight behind diversity initiatives including PRIME and Pathways to Law. Just yesterday, we reported ex-president of the Supreme Court Lord Neuberger has himself visited a number of state schools since he retired. He has encouraged judges and lawyers of any level to do the same.

Back to the new SRA stats. Alongside typical diversity data on the percentage of female and ethnic minority solicitors (59% and 21% respectively), for the first time ever the SRA has also collected data on transgenderism in the legal profession. The regulator has discovered 2% of solicitors, 1% of partners and 2% of other staff have a different gender identity to what was assigned to them at birth.

Image credit: Solicitors Regulation Authority

Other takeaways from the SRA diversity stats include that disabled people seem to be underrepresented: 3% of those working in law firms report they’re disabled, compared to 10% of the employed population. We’ve also learnt the majority, 51%, of lawyers are Christian, while 30% have no religion or belief.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said: “I know we will all welcome the progress that is clearly being made in many areas. But there is much more to do to achieve a truly diverse profession that reflects the community it serves, encourages people to access the legal services they need and offers opportunities for the brightest and best from every background. The changes we are making to the training of solicitors, the growing and varied initiatives in the sector to support people into the profession and the leadership shown by many firms will all help.”

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52 Comments

Anonymous

In other news: “Water is Wet” and “Brexit is a Total and Complete Disaster”

Anonymous

Low-born, badly educated people tend to do unsophisticated work. LC should run an article on the Pope’s Catholicism.

Lardner of Counsel

Criminal law is assisting those accused of being criminals.

Corporate law is assisting those who ARE criminals.

Anonymous

Who will help the poor-born kids?

Anonymous

I would be interested to see which firms are classified as ‘mainly doing corporate work’ and which are ‘mainly doing litigation work’.

Anonymous

Well, some of them are obvious.

Corporate/transactional focus:
The Magic and Silver Circle firms (whilst it is acknowledged that they have good litigators, especially Freshfields and HSF, well over half their billables will be corporate/finance work), most of the big global firms like NRF, HogLov, etc etc.

Litigation focus:
Stewarts Law, Peters & Peters, WilmerHale, and Quinn Emanuel come to mind. Mostly boutiques.

Most firms have a break down of what percentage of revenue comes from specific areas on sites like Legal500.

IM Trainee

Would be interesting to know how the percentage varies between different firms – e.g. us vs S&M vs Skadden vs Osborne Clarke.

BitCoin Millionaire's son

The law needs these emotional repressed privately educated kids.

I come from a working class background, I hear the drug dealers are making a right killing with this market. Much better profit margin and they always pay on time.

Anonymous

Happy to help them fund their 700 inch flat screen TV.

Anonymous

“Just weeks ago, Legal Cheek reported on statistics produced by the bar regulator which showed 12% of barristers attended a UK independent school. However, the response rate to this question was just 37%, meaning the percentage of privately-educated barristers is almost certainly higher.”

No Legal Cheek, that is not how you do statistics.

Anonymous

You also do not take the general population as the base-line as law is a graduate profession in the main. If 22% of those undertaking degrees are from private schools, then you would expect 22% of lawyers to be from private schools. Well done SRA. GCSE maths too difficult for you.

Anonymous

Duh, that’s why they got into law instead of engineering or medicine.

Anonymous

I’m a lawyer, but I can still add! The SRA are not lawyers. They are regulators. The fact that they don’t understand the statistics they spend our money collecting, may explain why as a protest a lot of both barristers and solicitors decide each year to answer all the diversity questions as “Prefer not to say”.

Warren G

REGULATOOOORS!

Anonymous

Oh how badly I wish I had went into one of those professions…eight years being grinded in MC aint worth it…

Anonymous

Meet a client yet? Or have you not been promoted out of the broom closet?

Sleepy lawyer

As someone who did a science degree and was taking statistics modules right through
third year, let me just say this is the most shallow analysis I’ve read- probably to justify you going to private school but still feeling hard done.

Firstly, taking the general population as a base line is fine. There is no good reason why privately educated kids should make up such a large proportion of graduates, as you seem to suggest, coming from such a small part of the population. I agree you can’t lay it at the SRA or firms doors, but it’s fine to comment on that being a problem.

Secondly, the statics for university education are 9% are privately educated (1). It shouldn’t be that 22% of lawyers come from 9% of graduates and just 7% of the population. Clearly something is going wrong there. You don’t get the best and brightest by selecting from the 7% who are better off.

You see why people thinks it’s a problem now?

1- Here’s a legal cheek article which references it if you’d like to check me.

NQ

I wonder if I should expose the ‘Online Test’ crap that is mandatory for many city firms during the recruitment process. Completed one in January with my friend at the same time using the skype conference call. Same questions, same answers. I got through to the phone interview, he did not. The funny thing is, although we answered the exact same questions, my answers were apparatnly above average while his were below. Makes one wonder.

Anonymous

I’d think twice about exposing anything given you appear to have uncovered this information by cheating on a test. Not sure the SRA would be impressed.

GDL-Heller

Well what relevant differentiating factor do you think firms know about you by the time you’re taking those tests?

GDL-Heller

Also give over anonymous. You can expose things without giving away your identity – stop threatening for no good reason.

Anonymous

THANK YOU!! I knew they were just crap and used to filter out candidates!

Ikea law

Does a digger drivers son really have what it takes tho? Big business with billions at stake doesn’t want to deal with lil Jack from Durham. Who can’t use a knife and fork correctly. Understanding Law is one thing understanding business is another. Sorry if this is up-pc but this is how people think. I’m not a Brit just a guy from Sweden.

Anonymous

Since Lord Denning was the son of draper, the answer would appear to be Yes. Mummy and Daddy paying for you to attend private school and then paying your course fees for you does not give you an understanding of buisness. Working at Uni and managing loans may do however. Solicitors also have to spend a lot of time dealing with ordinary people.

Anonymous

You can’t cite Lord Denning here. He and his brothers (Law Lord, Admiral and General) were exceptional. Most people of his background born at the end of the Victorian period would have been in service.

Ikea law

“understanding of business” isn’t about the numbers tho, it’s about connecting with them on the slopes or taking them to the Opera. Guys that run Fortune 500’s are not interested in a pork pie and banter. I was given a great education it gave me the skills to connect and understand these guys. Its two separate worlds – they don’t gel to well together. People are just to scared to say this. Load of people think this and say it behind closed doors!

Anonymous

But they don’t want to deal with you do they? 65% of Partners in the largest commercial firms in London are state school educated. You work in Sweden (that well know commercial law hot spot) and your “job” is going to the Opera with clients? Could it be you work in your Daddy’s firm and that’s all you can be trusted to do despite your expensive education?

Your education didn’t cover using full stops. In the UK, we don’t bother with sending clients off to the ski slopes when we want to show a client a good time. We just set them up with an escort.

You do you really tricky job of taking clients out to the ski slopes. The state school educated equity partners who own and run the biggest commercial firms in London will get on with the real work. But you keep telling yourself, its all down to your special skills of going to the Opera with clients that makes law firms sucessful.

Ikea law

Thanks for the reality check.

Anonymous

Not true. The majority of partners in law firms are privately educated. This should not come as a surprise. Clients want to work with sophisticated lawyers, not gauche people from comps in shiny suits, square shoes and chips on their shoulders.

Poor person who made it to the Lords

You both sound vile.

Working class people don’t listen to these muppets. Work hard and crack on.

Anonymous

I know its a difficult one for you without your private tutor to read the article for you. 36% is not most. If 36% of the Partners in the biggest firms are privatley educated, then this means we have do the really hard calculation of taking the number 36 from the number 100. This shows us that 64% of the partners in the largest firms are from State Schools.

Now to be most, the number has to be higher than 50. 36 is not higher than 50.

Most partners, by a long way are state school educated. There are some really good books out there that can help you learn to read. Even though your private eductaion failed to do so.

Anonymous

You are right. The problem in England is that there is a huge gulf between the private and state education systems. The latter is chronically bad. You have to be pretty sick to send your children to a state school. To make matters worse, our taxes go to prop up this failing system year after year.

Anonymous

*too
Not that great an education after all eh?

Anonymous

You are right. State school pupils are badly educated, chippy, resentful and unsophisticated. It is little wonder that the top jobs are taken by those educated privately.

Anonymous

Private School Pupils are usually thick, hence why they need special education to reach the same grades as state school students. They also confuse Mummy and Daddy bailing them out with ability. Any idiot can buy their grades with their partents money. You have to actually be bright to get three A* at a state school.

As your post shows, you are too thick to understand the SRA stats above. The majority of top jobs in law are held by state school educated lawyers who were the first person in their family to go to University.

Whats the matter, without your £20,000 a year tutor to help you, didn’t you understand that 36% is not “most”?

Anonymous

But thats just life, what are we suppose to do about it? Not take a well paid job we can get pretty easily and look for work as a plumber? My career was very much shaped by my God mother other wise known as nepotism – but last time I had a plumber round it was a father and son team. No one to bothered by nepotism in the trades. The working classes If they work hard they will get a job maybe even become my boss.

Anonymous

They already are. 65% of partners in the largest firms are state school educated. Do learn to read.

Anonymous

Not in my firm about 62% from public schools. 35% women. 18% bame. 25%LGBT

Anonymous

Working-class people do care about nepotism in the trades. Ironically, and somewhat fortunately, I only went to university because I couldn’t get an apprenticeship – they all went to the kids whose Dad worked at the firm.

I’ve got MC vac schemes. Statistically, it was more difficult to get a mechanic apprenticeship in the my hometown than to get a vacation scheme.

All you’ve done is highlight your ignorance.

Ikea law

The well connected go far be that in law or the trades. Suck it up, it will never change and why should it?

Anonymous

See you still can’t read.

It has has changed. Probabley because clients don’t want a retard from public school who doesn’t understand what 64% means.

Anonymous

A shame they didn’t teach you manners, dignity or courtesy while you were at whichever school you went to. How utterly awful your life must be if you feel so inadequate you have to behave like this about an education that ended decades ago. I feel for you.

Anonymous

It’s not a dichotomy between privately educated people and barely educated savages. There’s plenty of perfectly well spoken well brought up lower middle class and working class kids who attend decent comprehensives, go to good Russell Group unis, and never get near the top law firms despite their university achievements being similar to their privately educated counterparts.

I think a lot of that is to do with unconscious bias in interviews. Working in an MC, I’m very conscious of not having gone to private school since most people did and they do talk about it. My trainee intake was probably 80% privately educated. I learned to steer the conversation in interviews towards my work experience and away from schooling as usually the people interviewing you can’t relate (with some exceptions).

Then there’s the fact that you are up against the children of oil executives and bankers who can talk effortlessly about certain clients having been exposed to them for their entire lives, whereas you probably don’t know anyone in the City. You have to do a lot of work just to catch up with their ability to sound knowledgeable about those companies – though their knowledge is usually very superficial they at least know what to say.

Anonymous

I find being MC state school educated is rather funny with plenty of the other trainees parent’s paying 10-20K for a top education and ending up in the same spot.

Anonymous

If you went to a state school, you can’t by definition be middle class. You’re a pleb. And I’m afraid all state school kids are badly educated and carry around with them heaps of resentment. Little wonder that the top jobs go to private school pupils.

Anonymous

Unlike you we can count. 64% is not all. It is not even most. 64% of the top jobs have gone to state school educated lawyers. You haven’t learnt to read yet. Do you need your £20,000 a year tutor to read the article for you? Or is it elementary maths you’re having difficulty with?

Anonymous

Do you get that he’s trying to wind you up?

Anonymous

I’m glad you’re all over this thread chucking out this nonsense but the reality is I went to a normal school and have succeeded exactly the same amount as the children of CEOs who went to Eton and ended up at my firm. I’ve never met someone like you in my career so I assume you are an angry public school educated muppet who can’t get a job thanks to your innate stupidity.

Anonymous

He’s not an angry public school muppet (necessarily). He’s trying to wind you up.

Anonymous

Public school or state school. BAnk Underground Station. Will always be confusing.

Love everyone I say!!!!

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