January 29, 2014.
Those responsible for recruitment in the legal
profession should resist the urge to recruit only in their own image, says a
leading independent professional organisation.
The Law Society says recruiting
from the old school tie network or a limited range of universities makes it
hard for many talented people to enter or progress in the legal sector.
While the diversity of legal
talent in the profession is increasing every year, the organisation believes this
is not reflected in the number of those who become partners or leaders of law
firms. For example, nearly 12% of solicitors are from Black and ethnic minority
backgrounds, but these lawyers make up only 6% of partners. Additionally, women,
who make up half the solicitors profession, represent less than one third of
In response to this disparity,
the Law Society says it has produced a guide for firms that want to improve
Diversity and inclusion
in law firms- the business case, focuses on small firms as well as the wider
profession and offers clarity as to why it makes economic sense to have a
The Law Society is the
independent professional body, established for solicitors in 1825, that works
globally to support and represent its members, promoting the highest
professional standards and the rule of law. Its Chief Executive, Desmond Hudson,
believes there is a natural tendency for senior lawyers to recruit in their own
image, but he argues this attitude builds barriers to many talented people
gaining entry or progressing their careers in the legal sector.
“In order for a firm to keep
up with the competitive market, it needs to demonstrate an inclusive workplace
and robust diversity and equality policies,” he said. “Law firms that have good
diversity and inclusion practices will have a competitive advantage in the long-term over those that do not.”
With the demographics of the
UK changing rapidly, diversity is essential for law firms wanting to attract
the best people and meet clients’ needs. In addition, corporate clients are
increasingly looking to ensure their panel law firms match their values and
commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Mr Hudson added:
“We know, from direct
experience as well as through extensive research, that if a firm has a good
reputation for equality and fairness, it is more likely to attract good calibre
candidates from diverse backgrounds when recruiting.
“And with the ever expanding
international market, it makes sense for law firms to have a wide understanding
of language, cultural and religious influences.
“The Law Society has a
dedicated equality and inclusion team who are on hand to assist our members
with any questions they have about progress in this area.”