Diversity is becoming more and more of a hot-button topic in workplaces around the U.K. and beyond. The legal sector, long having been predominately white and male, is no exception. There has been an ongoing debate about exactly what is the root issue here, from the system itself to educational opportunities to financial issues (but that’s a talk for another day). Exactly what is the demographic breakdown for solicitors and other legal professionals in the U.K? And what rules are on the books to promote diversity as we move forward?
If we take a look at national statistics, it isn’t necessarily all doom and gloom for minority prospects in the legal field. From 2014 to 2016, the proportion of trainees and associates from ethnic minorities increasing by around 40%, and the average percentage of ethnic minority partners grew by 60%. The numbers for women have increased at a slower pace but were rising the quickest at partner level. That partner level is where we see the biggest diversity gulf in the legal profession. In general, even if minorities are well-recruited, their potential seems to halt. This is reflected in a pledge 13 major firms made to have a 30% female partnership by 2020. Only 4 of the 13 are on track to meet said goal.
Miranda Brawn, a barrister and a director at Daiwa Capital Markets, said that part of the issue here is a lack of mentorship and presence at these higher positions to guide young, but skilled minority legal professionals. Part of this is those who have made it extending a hand, but young minorities also need to be ready to network outside of their comfort zones. At the lower level, a growing increase in apprenticeship may make it more accessible for minorities to get on the path to becoming a solicitor, even if they don’t have many connections inside the profession.
From a legal perspective, there is plenty of reason to try and maintain a diverse staff base. All law firms need to comply with diversity requirements maintained by the Solicitor Regulation Board (SRA). Their public sector duties are stated as follows:
However, diversity is more than about projecting an image. It is bringing on a wider set of inputs and voices to improve your firm/company’s vision as well as work. This not only makes you better at what you do but also opens you up to new tiers of potential clients.
Whether you’re concerned about compliance or are looking to get the benefit of added perspective, Symphony Legal is ideal for helping you improve your legal firm or business. Our legal consultation services include staff management as well as marketing help in order to help you draw in skilled professionals from a variety of different backgrounds, for the ultimate betterment of your services.