News

Children of lawyers 17 TIMES more likely to become lawyers themselves

By on
60

A family business

Children of lawyers are 17 times more likely to become lawyers than children whose parents did a different job.

The figure appears in a new book on social mobility, The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged, by London School of Economics (LSE) assistant professor Sam Friedman and US academic Daniel Laurison.

The researchers say that the likelihood of a person becoming a lawyer is 17 times higher if either of their parents have preceded them into the law. This parental influence, they argue, is part of the reason why working class people are under-represented in the professions.

Friedman’s and Laurison’s analysis of the Labour Force Survey shows that law is the second most inheritable of around 20 professions examined, behind medicine.

Last year, research revealed that privately educated lawyers are more likely to earn higher salaries, with the Sutton Trust saying that “the legal sector has a social mobility problem”.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

60 Comments

Anonymous

I’m bored of this social mobility tosh. Who wants a lawyer that sounds like someone from the cast of Eastenders?

(43)(49)

Anonymous

Depends on area of law.

True enough, you don’t want Del Boy or Rodney doing your trusts case.

But in your fraudulent/exaggerated PI claim you may think an east end street fighter is just what you need.

(31)(13)

Anonymous

Not to mention crime

(10)(3)

Anonymous

I disagree. You definitely want a Del Boy doing your trusts case. It’s all smoke, mirrors, intrigue and family bust-ups in trusts!

(16)(0)

Anonymous

If it’s a wanted child, it’s an “unborn child”.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-47638608

If it’s an unwanted child, it’s just a “foetus”.

Discuss.

(2)(13)

Anonymous

Wrong side of history I’m afraid mate

(3)(0)

Anonymous

But why? I think I’ll actively discourage my son from becoming a lawyer when he’s old enough to talk about these things.

(50)(1)

Anonymous

Agree. I’m a lawyer because it’s reasonably intellectually stimulating, lets me argue with people and encounter interesting situations and clients. But most of all it’s because I realised I needed to earn double what my father did if I ever wanted to have a comparable lifestyle, prices of everything having gone utterly mad since my parents settled down.

I’d hope if I continue to earn lots of money and become quite rich that my kids would take the opportunity to do something much more interesting or useful like arts, sports, medicine or engineering. If they became finance lawyers too then I’d probably feel they wasted the opportunity of being privileged since all it really requires is to be clever and have basic social skills. It’s not really contributing anything significant to society.

(77)(5)

Anonymous

Disagree lawyers don’t contribute to society. I’d make arguments for why they do, but I’m sure you can think of them yourselves.

(3)(1)

K8

I agree. I don’t think I’d actively encourage my son to go to law school. Honestly, I love my job, but I can also clearly see that it is not a health way to live. Working 10-12 hour days 6-7 days per week, year after year, cannot possibly be good for a person.

I’d love to see my son work in a profession he loves, but I want to see him work in a field where boundaries exist and giving up your free time isn’t expected.

As an aside, I’m the first attorney in my family. That said, my husband and mother-in-law are both attorneys. My poor kiddo is probably doomed. 🤣

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Is there data which supports the fact that this trend is because of unfair treatment/advantage as opposed to a part of a pattern of children following their parents into a vocation or something else entirely? I don’t know the answer but I would like to approach the question scientifically.

I don’t get this (increasing? I don’t know if this is always how it was) trend among sociologists to point to diverging outcomes and say “the existence of these differing outcomes proves unequal treatment/discrimination not only exists but is the sole cause of these outcomes”.

It’s worse than saying correlation = causation. Its saying correlation = my hypothesized underlying cause is the causation. We might as well go back to believing the sun rises because we pray to it.

(22)(2)

anonymous

What percentage of singers had singers as parents? Of artists? Of politicians? i.e. some of it is just being aware that that career exists…

(6)(1)

Anonymous

It matters because there are a lot of unspoken social and professional rules in law and lawyers’ kids have the knowledge and resources to navigate this world more aptly than first generation lawyers. Starting from the LSAT and application process. Probably 17 x more likely bc in a sense, it’s 17x easier.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

In other news: water is wet…

(15)(1)

Anonymous

And Lord Harley wears a cape.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

And an old white man shits in the woods while a bear ignores child abuse sat in the Vatican.

(13)(3)

Food For Tort

My father was a registered boiler repair technician, just like Lord Harley.

I am simply awaiting the day when I become one…

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Once again we have an announcement on social mobility which will put off and demotivate the very children we are purporting to want to help.

(10)(4)

Anonymous

Ah, the famous ‘sweep it under the carpet’ approach ought to sort it.

(20)(3)

Anonymous

Ban them

Make them become teachers

(14)(4)

Anonymous

I wouldn’t say no to 11 weeks of holiday…

(6)(1)

Anonymous

Hear hear!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Maybe in certain sectors, the vast majority that I encounter are of the same mindset as myself, i.e. we would actively discourage our children from following our footsteps.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

It’s a fantastic career

If you have a thick skin, can cope with high responsibility and high pressure in an environment where nobody ever says thankyou but will grab the first opportunity to tell you when you’ve missed something/made a typo, then it can be a great career with lots of money and which isn’t actually that hard.

You can get on the property ladder in zone 1/2, have multiple holidays, weekly shop at Waitrose and have a very comfortable living saving 50% of your net income then get out at say 35 years of age, spend time with family and do an in-house gig.

The mean thing is to make sure you still have a life outside of work. So many city lawyers are defined by their work and their status it’s so very dull.

(37)(1)

Anonymous

You mean “the main thing”, right?

I grabbed that first opportunity. Not sorry. Other than that, an insightful comment.

(12)(1)

Anonymous

I am an associate at a US law firm and haven’t been able to buy in zone 1-2. It’s going to take years.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

Stop blowing your money on cocaine and hookers and you soon will be able to!

(22)(0)

Anonymous

Well said Jones day partner

Anonymous

What on earth are you doing then with all of your money? You can get a 1bed flat in Islington/Aldgate/Angel for around 600k and assuming a 15% deposit, monthly mortgage repayments of a 1/4 of your net monthly salary.

Further out you can comfortably buy in Highbury, Clapham, Brixton etc not to mention even further out!

Basically having a city legally career in the top firms can shape your life and allow you to build a solid foundation.

Lots of lawyers seem to moan and say they would advise their younger self not to go into it – granted it’s not life saving but you can always use the platform you are fortunate to be on to help others less fortunate if you want something meaningful in your life

(5)(2)

Anonymous

You kind of need to keep your law salary to pay off the 500k mortgage…

And will need more than a 1 bed flat in a council estate when you get married and have children.

Anonymous

Which firm tho?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

“You can get on the property ladder in zone 1/2, have multiple holidays, weekly shop at Waitrose and have a very comfortable living saving 50% of your net income then get out at say 35 years of age, spend time with family and do an in-house gig.” Rubbish.

“The mean thing is to make sure you still have a life outside of work. So many city lawyers are defined by their work and their status it’s so very dull.” See above. You have to be defined by your work if you want to do the above by 55, never mind 35.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Simply not true. You can do five years in a US law firm getting paid 185k + 40k bonus per year. Get to 5/6 pqe and on the property ladder and then at that point you can either go be a senior associate/director at a smaller private practice firm or make a move in-house.

I’d say for the 5/6 years you are working in private practice pqe you probably would work 1 Sunday per month and leave on average at 19:30 during the week with remote working by email/the odd later night. Plenty of time for partners, hobbies, vacations, general nothing free time. Simples.

(2)(3)

Mature realist aka old geezer

Firstly, which firm pays £185k at 5 years pqe? I would guess there are less than a handful at best. So you are literally talking about 100 people absolute max earning that wedge at that level of pqe in London.

Secondly, two/three years earning that amount will not be enough to keep you on the property ladder in London, unless you really save a lot, don’t have too much debt and don’t take out a big mortgage. But yes you can save a deposit for a new build 1 bedroom flat in Holloway.

Thirdly, the belief that you can go from private equity at Skadden to any in-house gig or a small firm is something that people at top US firms like to tell themselves. Believe it or not, small City and West End firms with no private equity practices have no need for high flying PE lawyers from US firms. Equally a small firm working on mid market/Aim M&A have no need for a senior associate with experience working on multi-billion pound corporate transactions as they already have their own senior associates on partnership track, who don’t expect a ridiculous salary. Of course it is easier to go down than up, but don’t mistake easier for easy. In terms of going in-house, unless you have substantial secondment experience, in-house lawyers will not be rushing to recruit you for general in-house roles. If you are talking about specialist roles, then yes our example of a PE lawyer at Skadden moving to a fund is certainly possible, but when you’re there don’t expect to leave the office at 7.30pm. You honestly believe those Fund Directors are going to allow you to swan out to see the family before it gets dark?

My point is follow the career path you want, and be prepared to pursue it at whatever costs that may be. Don’t think you can follow a path and then parachute on to another path because you think they will be grateful to have you in their midst. If you want to change, make the move early, the later you move the less options you will have. Lastly, get your degree as that is key (clearly you are still at Uni or maybe even doing A levels).

(30)(0)

Anonymous

Good comment. Thank you. Whilst some of the student skirmishing on this site can be tiresome, I keep coming back for the informed commentary like this.

Anonymous

Haha. I speak as an associate at one of these firms earning this money and recently gotten onto the property ladder so I can agree with where the OP is coming from and it’s completely achievable. The top US firms will all pay upwards of 160k for a 5/6 year pqe just look at how many NQs are getting 100k + this days so a +10k pay rise per years seems legit.

I do say though that’s all well and good but the minute you leave that US law firm bubble you are probably halving your salary and therefore would need to already be in a position to continue (or reduce) your standard of living.

Anonymous

I can’t think of anything worse than my kids becoming lawyers. The fact that many lawyers have managed to marry another lawyer is beyond me.

(16)(1)

Anonymous

I’d love to marry another lawyer

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I personally had a hard path towards law – my parents are merchant bankers, not lawyers.

(17)(0)

Anonymous

Lawyers actually have time to make children? Other than JD partners, though the syph probably reduced their fertility

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Children of Legal Cheek journalists 17 TIMES more likely to become Legal Cheek journalists themselves.

(14)(0)

HaterMater

Legal Cheek “journalist”

(5)(2)

Jay

Funny how lawyers hate being lawyers.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Tbh, most people hate their jobs.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Why do they

(0)(0)

Anonymous

This is wank for a Friday.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Bring back the videos Tom and Katie used to do I say.

(1)(0)

Gerontion

And? I fail to see what the issue is.

(1)(2)

Worried Teacher

Went into teaching after my legal studies. The lawyers’ children I teach are usually the worst behaved in class and generally lag behind with reading and homework as they seem to spend the most time messing around on iPads/iPhones. No 6 year old NEEDS an iPad, but I suppose it keeps them quiet.

These are young kids with almost no parental supervision crying when they’ve been bullied on Fortnite, acting out against the other kids who say ‘No’ to them and still haven’t been shown how to tie their shoe laces at the age of 9.

This is all the parents’ responsibility. It’s motivated me to try to stay at home in the evenings when I have my own children. I feel genuinely saddened that many lawyers seem to care more about the hours they put in/social media presence than the well-being of their own kids. But of course, they would deny that…

(10)(6)

Anonymous

Interesting comment. One of my friends is a child psychologist, with a mixed NHS and private practice. She mentioned that the NHS side of her practice is exclusively populated by children of low income and immigrant families, and the private practice side is exclusively populated by children whose fathers are working long hours in the city and who therefore never see them. Both sets of children, apparently, are equally messed up; it’s just the manner in which they are messed-up apparently manifests itself differently (i.e. violence incl. knife crime for the NHS patients; behavioural issues, drugs and self-harm for the private practice ones).

(13)(0)

Worried Teacher

Absolutely this. My friends teaching in private secondary schools have dealt with a number of barristers’ children who have had their lives disrupted because of drug abuse. Parents had absolutely no idea for years what was going on in their children’s lives and how they struggled.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

That is why I pay for all those school fees. A better class of psychological problem.

(11)(1)

ST

What an overly broad brush with which you paint. If you substitute “children of affluence” instead of “children of attorneys” your comments might be more tolerable. I am an attorney who works for the government as a public servant. My children didn’t get Ipads until 5th grade when they were required to have them for school. They rarely get in trouble and have never once been accused of being a bully. Maybe Not ALL children of attorneys are the spoiled monsters you claim them to be.

(0)(0)

Fools gold

My favourite is when they ( the offspring) swan around the office of mummy/daddy trying to tell the rest of the trainees that they are there on merit alone. LMFAO.

(11)(2)

Rumple

Make sense – the kids I’ve studied and worked with who have parents that are lawyers have more often than not given the impression that they had no upbringing whatsoever.

(2)(0)

Worried Teacher

Why are comments being deleted that do not name anyone?

I wrote as a teacher how the children of lawyers that I teach appear to have almost no parental supervision at home and underperform academically. I am dismayed by the amount of time they are allowed to spend on iPads, playing games not suitable for their age group and how their parents seem to blame everyone else but themselves. I also see a sad correlation between the amount of tweets the lawyer has and how badly behaved their child is in class.

Would Legal Cheek like to see my reports this term?

(4)(3)

Anonymous

I suspect it is your comment above at 6:17 pm. It appears to have been approved now. I’m not sure whether there is a rolling lag for all comments, or whether certain comments are selectably only approved later. Perhaps the Legal Cheek team could comment?

(On a related note, it would be nice if we could establish account for commenting on the site.)

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The powers that be do not care about social mobility. They’re obsessed by BAME and gender percentages over everything, especially at upper levels of the professions. It is a great time to be a privileged woman or ethnic minority representative. Daddy’s cash and a career joker card work together very well. The privileged white males will be OK with the tailwind they have and the abject lack of data to filter them, so the inevitable result is that it is the more working class white males that are being screwed over in the current climate.

(21)(2)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories