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Diversity still lacking at senior levels

8 October 2019

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More than 40 per cent of male solicitors in private practice are partners, compared to less than 20 per cent of women and 20 per cent of BAME solicitors, latest figures reveal.

The Law Society Annual Statistics Report 2018 tracks the size and composition of the solicitors' profession on an annual basis.

The latest report discovered that diversity among solicitors has increased by 2.1 per cent in the last year – with almost one sixth of solicitors (16.9 per cent) now coming from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

However, it also showed that the ethnicity and gender gap at more senior levels is still significant.

"We are making progress, but we need to do more to ensure our profession reflects the community we serve,” said Law Society president Simon Davis.

Only a quarter of new solicitors provided ethnicity information to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in 2017-18, while the proportion of the entire practising profession for whom there is no ethnicity data is at 17 per cent – and growing steadily.

“It is a real cause for celebration that solicitors come from an ever-widening pool, reflecting the diverse society of which we are part and which we serve,” said Davis.

However, he added that “without more complete ethnicity data our ability to monitor either the ethnic make-up of the profession or the impact of diversity and inclusion initiatives will continue to deteriorate”.

The annual survey of the profession showed there were 143,167 (+2.5 per cent) solicitors with practising certificates (PC holders), and 188,868 (+3.8 per cent) individuals in total on the roll of solicitors on 31 July 2018. More than half (50.8 per cent) of the profession are now women and in 2017-18, 62 per cent of admissions were female, up from 53 per cent 17 years ago.

The number of students graduating with first degrees in law from universities in England and Wales in 2018 was the highest on record at 16,256 and the number of new students accepted onto first degree law courses increased further (to 24,575 for 2018-19).

Meanwhile, the legal profession fared well in the Top 75 Social Mobility Employer Index 2019 – which ranks the UK’s employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds

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