This week marked the two-year anniversary of our ‘Opening Up or Shutting Out’ report on social mobility in the legal profession in London. The report is extremely poignant as it highlights significant detrimental facts and statistics in relation to diversity in the legal profession.
Research carried out among the top 50 UK law firms found that only 19% of trainees recruited were outside of the elite Russell Group of Universities, leaving graduates from other universities at a clear disadvantage. In regards to gender equality in the legal profession, Funke Abimbola MBE, a contributor to the report and General Counsel and Head of Financial Compliance for Roche UK, stated that women comprise just 19% of the partnership at magic circle firms, 17.5% at US firms and 25% at other London firms. In addition, the report found that only 5.7% of city firm partners came from a black and minority ethnic background (BME).
This report continues to be pertinent two years on, as the issues raised (although heading in the right direction) are still prevalent in the legal profession in London today. The gender pay gap in the profession is described as ‘above average’ according to the diversity league table. Many UK firms have also implemented diversity policies and practices, however the Diversity League Table suggests that there is little discernible change in levels of representation at the top of the profession for women and ethnic minorities. On the other hand, the news that Lady Hale has been sworn in as the first female President of the Supreme Court will delight diversity advocates across the country. While this is a progressive step, there is still more to be done.
Alex MacFarlane, intern at Byfield