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Late surge in firms returning diversity data forms

Total hits 6,600 or 65 per cent of firms with three days to go

28 January 2014

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The SRA is reporting a late surge in law firms returning their diversity data forms, with the total hitting 6,602 or around 65 per cent this morning. The deadline expires at the end of Friday this week.

The regulator has already announced that it will be carrying out a 'lessons learned' review of its workforce diversity scheme. Earlier this month, only around 40 per cent of firms had supplied their data and complaints were made about the form used.

Antony Townsend told last week's SRA board meeting that it was "worth remembering the gains" from better law firm diversity data.

"This was a requirement brought in by the LSB on all the regulators, but it is very close with our professional ethical principles to make the best of talent and increase diversity.

"We worked very hard to make the form as simple as possible and there was a lot of discussion with firms."

Townsend said enforcement would be "proportionate", and the SRA was not "going out with a big stick".

By the time of the board meeting, 5,839 firms had returned their data, and Townsend said the regulator had received "a lot of calls" and set up a special team to deal with them.

He said discussions would now take place with the LSB on improvements to the diversity data process to keep the regulatory burden to a minimum.

In a separate development, a spokeswoman for the SRA said around 50 solicitor advocates had currently signed up for QASA. Only 12 barristers have registered for the scheme, which is being boycotted by the Criminal Bar Association and regional circuits.

Meanwhile, 107 of 400 legal executive criminal advocates have signed up for QASA, a spokesman for ILEX said.

All advocates regulated by ILEX Professional Standards have until 30 May to register, including associate prosecutors working for the CPS.

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