Celebrating diversity in law

Celebrating diversity in law

We spoke to Law Society President, Lubna Shuja, who believes it is essential to increase access to the legal profession for aspiring solicitors from working class backgrounds and to remove the barriers to progression to senior levels.

Better access to the profession

Building on its active involvement in the City of London socio-economic diversity taskforce, the Law Society is now doing its bit to help law firms meet 2030 targets to improve social mobility, whilst boosting diversity at senior levels in the profession.

Social mobility, diversity and inclusion are not just priorities for me, they are the reality I have lived and practised in.

Lubna Shuja

Law Society President

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What the future holds

A window on the legal world

The latest diversity data from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) shows that 58% of lawyers are from a professional background. 

 “Anyone who has the talent, ambition and capability to join our profession should be welcomed and enabled to progress as far as their drive will take them. Diversity is a strength and an asset; it leads to better decision-making and stronger businesses.” says Lubna Shuja

To play its part in improving socio-economic diversity in financial and professional services,  the Law Society was a key member of the City of London socio-economic diversity taskforce launched in 2020. 

As part of the taskforce’s consultation on how to encourage employers to foster social mobility, the Law Society partnered with local law societies to run 10 regional roundtables to discuss the issue.

The consultation process gathered the views of lawyers and diversity and inclusion professionals on a variety of topics, including data collection, setting targets, and what they’d like to see from regulators, the government and the Law Society itself. The key findings are available online.

A 2030 goal

The Law Society has welcomed the taskforce’s final report, published in 2022, which sets a goal that 50% of senior leaders in the financial and professional services sector should come from a non-professional background by 2030.

To achieve this, the report sets out a five-point pathway, backed by the Law Society, that any organisation can take:

  1. assign a senior leader responsible for socio-economic diversity
  2. collect data on employee socio-economic backgrounds by 2025
  3. take action to increase socio-economic diversity at senior levels and monitor what works
  4. set targets based on data, considering their specific context, such as starting point, size, location, sub-sector
  5. publish data and what interventions have worked.

Working with Barclays

Barclays has worked together with the Law Society over a number of years to help drive diversity, equity and inclusion across the financial and professional services arena.

This includes our involvement, alongside the Law Society, in the City of London Corporation’s taskforce on socio-economic inclusion, aimed at improving economic diversity at senior levels in UK financial and professional services. One result of this is the creation of an independent membership body, Progress Together, aimed at further driving socio-economic diversity at senior levels in finance.

Barclays own work on social mobility, now embedded in everything we do, includes our long-running LifeSkills programme, which provides millions of people with the resources, skills and confidence they need to find rewarding work. 

Driving best practice

The Law Society is committed to helping firms set ambitious, yet realistic targets across diversity characteristics to make them intersectional, and across different levels of seniority. It will also support firms in publishing their data and activities.

Working with the Solicitors Regulation Authority and across the legal sector, the Law Society will strive to get the best social mobility data and encourage the profession to discuss and share best practice through its existing diversity and inclusion forums.

It has published a D&I framework that aims to encourage law firms to take a strategic and systematic approach to creating lasting D&I change.

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