Diversity ‘slowly improving’ in legal profession

Diversity ‘slowly improving’ in legal profession
(Representational image: iStock)

Chandrashekar Bhat

DIVERSITY is improving “slowly” in the legal profession in England and Wales with the proportion of lawyers of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds going up by a percentage point since 2021.

A Solicitors Regulation Authority report revealed that 19 per cent of lawyers working across all firms were from BAME communities, up from 18 per cent in 2021 and 14 per cent in 2015.

Some 12 per cent of lawyers were of Asian heritage, while black and those having mixed ethnicity accounted for three per cent each. One per cent of lawyers were from other minority ethnic backgrounds.

The 2023 data revealed that overall, 17 per cent of partners of law firms were from BAME backgrounds, but there was a significantly higher proportion of partners working in one-partner firms (36 per cent) than any other firm size. And the proportion declined as the firm size increased, with just eight per cent of partners from these backgrounds in the largest firms (with 50+ partners).

The proportion of women in the legal profession was also up slightly to 53 per cent in 2023 from 52 per cent in 2021 and 48 per cent in 2015.

SRA chief executive Paul Philip said: “A diverse and inclusive legal profession which reflects the wider community is not only good for the public, but good for legal businesses themselves. It benefits everyone to have the most talented people from all backgrounds able to work and progress in the legal sector. Things are slowly improving, but there is still more to do.”