News

Do TV legal dramas represent real-life diversity?

By on
12

New research examines portrayals of diversity (or lack thereof) in popular shows like Suits and Silk

Harvey Specter, Suits

New research has revealed that 64% of senior lawyers in TV legal dramas are male whilst 78% are white.

BPP University Law School analysed US and UK legal dramas with the aim of finding out how close TV is to reality regarding diversity in the legal sector.

The research found that only 22% of those from a black, or ethnic minority background were cast as main characters as legal professionals on TV, compared to 78% who were white. It was also revealed that only 15% of on-screen lawyers were Black, 1% were Asian, 2% were Middle Eastern and 4% were multiracial.

Commenting on the research, BPP said: “It’s clear from analysing the law industry’s current commitment to diversity and inclusion, that writers and directors still need to be more representative with their casting.”

Applications are open for the Legal Cheek September UK Virtual Law Fair 2022

An analysis of 30 different shows concluded that two-thirds (64%) of males were in partner roles compared to just 36% of women. However, figures from BPP’s 2021 intake suggest that the exact opposite is true at entry level. Almost two-thirds (64%) of BPP’s 2021 cohort were women, compared to just 36% of men.

BPP researchers also ranked legal dramas on the diversity of their casting. US show The Good Fight was revealed to be the most diverse with half of its cast coming from black or ethnic minority backgrounds. Law student favourite Suits placed third with a score of 37%. The most diverse UK TV legal drama was The Victim, 33% of whose cast was made up black and ethnic minority actors.

Most ethnically diverse legal dramas

RankingTV drama% of cast from black or ethnic minority background
1The Good Fight50%
2All Rise40%
3Suits37%
4The Victim33%
5Criminal Justice33%
6Proven Innocent33%
7How to Get Away With Murder25%
8Silk25%
9The Practice23%
10The Split20%

(Source: BPP)

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

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

12 Comments

HR

Honestly get a grip, if this is genuinely the biggest complaint you have, it’s a sign that there aren’t legitimate barriers in this career anymore

(61)(6)

MC associate

“An analysis of 30 different shows concluded that two-thirds (64%) of males were in partner roles compared to just 36% of women. However, figures from BPP’s 2021 intake suggest that the exact opposite is true at entry level. Almost two-thirds (64%) of BPP’s 2021 cohort were women, compared to just 36% of men.”

So legal dramas should reflect BPP’s admissions, not real life partner ratios? What are you smoking?!!

(81)(0)

Anon

Silly season is upon us.

(43)(1)

Alan

Some people have too much time on their hands.

(32)(1)

Realist

These TV shows get absolutely nothing right about real life lawyering 😂

✅ Same lawyer advises on transactional and contentious matters

✅ More than half the day is spent running around NYC striking up conversations with random characters, instead of doing redlines at a desk

✅ Needless gossip and chit chat about people’s personal lives

(52)(1)

Anon

Fakest thing is how good they all look after supposedly pulling an all nighter!

(14)(0)

Getagrip

Jesus wept. Why give this inane garbage any oxygen of publicity?

(19)(1)

F

What do ppl think of that partner track new series on Netflix?

(3)(1)

John Smith

Not sure how/why this is proposed as an issue?

In the UK at least the population is c.80% white, and in the USA it is 65% white, surely by the writer’s logic we need to reduce the presence of black or other ethnic minority people in these roles to properly match society?

What a poor attempt at journalism.

(30)(3)

Paul the Pensions Partner

Who cares about this rubbish?

Any plumb that loves these cringey wannabe lawyer shows are the types who have legal instagrams and share study notes even though they got a 2:1 from a non RG.

(7)(6)

V confused

Mind numbingly pointless article. Is the writer aware that 3% of the UK population is black? The on-screen lawyer number is 5 times that.

(17)(1)

Jimbob

Social mobility in the legal profession is a far bigger issue than race, gender or ethnicity.

(10)(0)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories