Number of ‘privileged’ solicitors remains high

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By Rhys Duncan on


But significant progress in other areas, says regulator

The number of lawyers from “privileged” backgrounds remains high, a new report by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has found — but progress to make the profession more diverse is being made.

The study, which documents the proportion of, amongst other things, women in law firms, Black, Asian or minority ethnic origin lawyers, and lawyers from privileged backgrounds, surveyed 9,276 firms and over 200,000 people.

To be considered as having a privileged background, lawyers must either have parents from a “professional” background, or have attended a fee paying school. The proportion of those coming within the former category has fallen from 60% to 57% since 2019. As for those who attended fee paying schools, the percentage has dropped from 23 to 21 in the last eight years.

The distribution of these lawyers is, however, uneven. The largest firms have a significantly higher proportion of ‘privileged’ lawyers, with an average of 65% having professional backgrounds in the family, and 28% attending a fee paying school.

Elsewhere, the report details a small increase in the number of women within the legal world, up 1% since 2021 to a new high of 53%. In that same time, the number of female partners has risen 2% to reach another fresh high of 37%.

The study also noted a rise in lawyers of Black, Asian or minority ethnic origin. This group now make up 19% of lawyers, up from 14% in 2015. At partnership level this number is sits at 17%, although in firms with more than 50 partners there is a significant drop down to only 8%.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive said in response to the report:

“A diverse and inclusive legal profession which reflects the wider community is not only good for the public, but good for legal businesses themselves. It benefits everyone to have the most talented people from all backgrounds able to work and progress in the legal sector. Things are slowly improving, but there is still more to do.”

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