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Hannah Gannagé-Stewart

Deputy Editor, Solicitors Journal

Law Society to examine BAME under-representation

Law Society to examine BAME under-representation


The Law Society is launching virtual roundtable discussions to explore why BAME solicitors are under-represented at the senior level 

The Law Society of England and Wales is launching a series of virtual roundtable discussions to explore why black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) solicitors are under-represented at the senior level.

The discussions are part of ongoing in-depth research – developed with input from the Society’s Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division (EMLD) – exploring the career experiences of those from minority groups.

Figures show that 25% of BAME solicitors currently make partner compared to 35% of their white counterparts.

At a time when there has been success at recruitment levels with 17% of solicitors defining themselves as BAME, above that of the working population in England and Wales (14%), this research aims to establish why BAME solicitors are still under-represented at a senior level.

“Racism and all forms of discrimination and prejudice have no place in our justice system – or in any other aspect of society. Our Society and the solicitors’ profession continue to strive to ensure access to justice, equality for all under the legal system and to promote the rule of law,” said Law Society president Simon Davis.

“Virtual roundtable meetings are being run with solicitors, and with those responsible for recruitment and progression, across the country, from Birmingham to Manchester and London to Cardiff, throughout July and August. Once completed, we plan to draw up detailed conclusions from members’ feedback."

The desk research phase confirmed that while a higher proportion of BAME solicitors are sole practitioners (11%) compared to 4% of white European solicitors, BAME solicitors are less well represented at partnership level within the larger firms.

Davis said that some larger firms are already looking into the diversity profile of their workforce, setting targets around partner promotions and voluntarily publishing their ethnicity pay gaps ahead of any legislative requirement, but added: “More needs to be done".

Previous research by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Law Society found that the main challenges the industry faces include educational attainment; the development of soft skills; careers guidance; university access; significant financial obstacles; access to work experience; and recruiting practices of employers.

The current research will examine recruitment, retention and progression, to identify what practical steps the profession can take in addressing the challenges and to from a longer-term strategy for the Law Society.