Inclusion and diversity in the legal industry

Inclusion and Diversity in the Legal Industry

Where is change happening?

Diversity within the legal industry is gradually improving with more to be done we can take a look at those who have created an active plan to increase diversity in the workforce.

The Fairness Project is committed to helping students improve their employability by understanding the barriers and how to overcome them. They also work to highlight the students’ own personal biases in order to create future employers who are fair and can alter the culture in the industry.

The Times recognised law firms which made significant progress in the way of diversity in 2023.

Included in their top rankings is Addleshaw Goddard as they have increased their statistics for women in partner roles from 20% to 28% over a 7 year period.

They are also featured in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women list.

Osbourne Clarke law firm based in Bristol has been committed to their inclusivity programmes which are a part of their Race Action Plan. These include, the Scholarship Initiative designed to support scholars and help them overcome the barriers in the industry.

Additionally, they have the OC Reach Talent Programme which welcomes ethnic minority students to gain work experience within the firm. This improves their opportunities as well as creating a substantial talent pool within the firm.


Diversity within the legal industry

The Solicitors Regulation Authority have completed a study which shows the inclusivity which can be seen in the UK legal industry. Despite there being great progress with inclusivity growing each year there are still moves which need to be made to make the professional world more diverse.

People of colour in Law

The Solicitors Regulation Authority revealed that in the UK a small 19% of lawyers are black, Asian or from a minority ethnic origin. Of this only 17% of partners fall into any of these categories.

The median pay gap between those who are black, Asian or an ethnic minority and those who are white is at 7.6% in 2023. This means minority groups are being paid less than white staff over the legal industry.

Women in law

In the UK, it was found that women make up 53% of lawyers and only 37% of partners in the UK are women

Forbes found that in the US only 39.51% of lawyers are women and only 4.89% of partners were women of colour.

The Socio-economic gap in law

Lawyers who come from privileged backgrounds and have parents who are from a ‘professional’ background is at 57% In 2023. This is slowly decreasing however, those who come from independent and fee-paying schools are still a majority within large law firms.

The LGBTQ+ community in law

The LGBTQ+ community is a very underrepresented group within the legal industry and in the UK in 2023, only 4.57% of lawyers were reported to identify within the LGBTQ+ community. Of this only 2.57% of partners were of this group. This statistic is also reported to be increasing year by year, more needs to be put into action to encourage safety within the legal industry and promote diversity.


How Diversity is beneficial to the legal industry

It is important for clients to see a wide array of people they can connect with. A study done by Reuters showed that law firms with the least diversity within their staff are more likely to miss out on instructions from corporates.

They discovered that 25% of corporate legal departments use diversity data when selecting which law firm to work with.

Research from Harvard Business Review observed that companies with above average total diversity achieve an average of 19% points of higher innovation revenues as well as 9% points higher earning before interest and taxes.


The culture within the legal industry is gradually changing and improving, with the support from further programmes designed to advocate for minority groups we can have hope more people receive equal opportunities.


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