Analysis News UK Diversity Will the profession finally add class to its diversity stats? By The Lawyer 2 February 2009 00:00 7 January 2016 16:53 Sign in or register to continue reading. It's FREE Sign in Email Password Keep me logged in Forgot your password? Not registered? It's FREE! Register now Register with The Lawyer anonymous 2 February 2009 at 14:18 Personally… I’d be more sympathetic to working class people if they didn’t waste so much of their money on designer clothes, over-priced trainers and Sky telly. No-one’s going to thank me for pointing that out, but someone had to, didn’t they? Reply Link Andy 2 February 2009 at 15:24 Re: Personally… “I’d be more sympathetic to working class people if they didn’t waste so much of their money on designer clothes, over-priced trainers and Sky telly. No-one’s going to thank me for pointing that out, but someone had to, didn’t they?” No. Reply Link Anonymous 2 February 2009 at 17:03 Anyone actually asked any working class lawyers? … about their experiences?? I come from a very working class background. I spent 3 years as a lawyer at a large commercial firm and, quite frankly, was surrounded by people who were completely unlike me. Their values were different, their experiences were different. One trainee in my year even got the contract because her dad was very friendly with the Managing Partner. Just look at the interests of lawyers – golf, horse riding, opera… does this really tally up with what the average person on the street enjoys? No. And then the politics… the backstabbing. By and large, with someone from the working classes you know where you stand. Lawyers are way too nice to each other, and way to ready to backstab. The field IS extremely uneven. Working class kids usually don’t have as settled a home life, more often have to work during the holidays and can’t rely on mummy or daddy’s friends to give them work experience. There was one guy on my course at university who sent his coursework home… so that his dad could have one of his trainees do it. Fortunately for me, I got out and found another profession I’m currently really enjoying – it’s tough right now with the economy, but I’m infinitely happier now that I ever was as a lawyer, and all because I’m not surrounded by up-themselves idiots all day. Good to see so many of you getting laid off. Reply Link Anonymous 2 February 2009 at 18:06 Last Post Well done on showing your intelligence by not stereotyping “the working classes” there. Bravo. Reply Link Tax lawyer from a comprehensive school 2 February 2009 at 18:21 Gawd bless the Labour party One reason why the profession is so socio-economically homogenous is that Labour destroyed grammar schools, the system which allowed the able but financially unable to access good universities and then the professions. If the government really wants to do something about diversity in the workplace, it should start at the root of the problem by improving state education so that the not-so-wealthy can access good universities and compete with the wealthier counterparts. Reply Link Paul 2 February 2009 at 21:14 Failings of the legal profession Those from privileged backgrounds tend to present themselves better (e.g. appearance, speech and manners.) However, firms fail to recognise that they have been given every possible aid to get to were they are (e.g. private school, funding for degree and connections). Those from less privileged backgrounds have been more resilient, determined and dedicated. I am not meaning discriminate against those from privileged backgrounds just to illustrate the point that those individuals that not had all the assistance tend possess alternate qualities and in my opinion superior qualities. Furthermore, to anonymous. Your naive view perfectly represents those individual in the legal profession who wrongfully generalise those that have to endure greater hardships then you can appreciate. Reply Link Anonymous 3 February 2009 at 03:11 Let’s not stereotype I don’t know what has caused anonymous to come to the conclusion that working class people “waste so much of their money on designer clothes, over-priced trainers and Sky telly” but I can assure you that the majority of the working class are not like that. Reply Link Anonymous 3 February 2009 at 16:38 Stereotypes have nothing to do with it The so-called ‘working class’ are just as likely as the professional/privileged to be interested in golf, horse-riding and opera. And it is silly to say that only those from privileged backgrounds have homogenous interests within their ‘class’ group. In my large commercial practice everyone has their own interests – some (many) are into football, some are into country sports, some into rugby and cricket and some hiking and sailing, and we’re from all sorts of backgrounds. However life is like that – generally you won’t end up working anywhere where all your colleagues are the same or where they all have the same background – imagine how tedious that would be. Anonymous is worried about office politics and says that the ‘working class’ do not participate in such matters – what nonsense. People are people – and everyone is occasionally tempted to gossip behind a colleague’s back, or present a smiling face to a colleague one doesn’t really like that much. It’s life, and it happens in the stock room at your local corner shop as well as in the board room of your top 20 law firm. Do you think that children who go into the family line of business (of whatever size) all work their way to the top – of course not. One is just as likely to jump ahead of other chambermaids to end up assistant manager of a B&B as one is to get a TC based on a parent’s nodding acquaintance with the managing partner – in fact more likely given that most top firms have rigourous interview and selection procedures involving multiple partners so that no one individual can impose a person on the firm. It’s possible the trainee you speak of got her interview based on family connections – but i’d bet she performed well in interview as well. And it’s rather unfair to characterise everyone unlike you as an ‘up-themselves idiot’ – i might just as fairly describe the ‘working-class’ colleagues I’ve known in the past as chippy uncouth fools. Reply Link James E. Petts 4 February 2009 at 15:07 Wealth is not class; ability tends to begat ability It is nonsense to conflate wealth, class and “privilege” – they are entirely separate, and each do not entail the other. It is perfectly possible for a person doing a job traditionally considered to be of low social status (e.g., plumber, construction worker) to be considerably more wealthy than occupations traditionally considered to be of high social status, such as teaching. Equally, it is possible for wealthy parents to give their children a very poor upbringing, which children as a result cannot honestly be described as “privileged”. No doubt, given the absence of any subsidy or subsidised loan for the necessary specific qualifications for entry into the legal profession, wealth per se is an advantage (although commercial rate loans are available, so the absence of family wealth is not a complete bar to entry). It ought also be considered that people strongly tend to marry (and therefore have children with) people similar to themselves, such that hard-working and successful people will tend to have children with other hard-working and successful people, and the combined genetic and environmental influence from that parentage and upbringing is considerably more likely to produce children who are hard-working and successful than those born to parents who are neither. Similarly, people who tend to be more intellectual are more likely to have children with other people who tend to be more intellectual, and therefore produce children with similar characteristics (intellect being something both that tends to enable people to be more wealthy and successful, and something necessary to do well in the legal profession). It does not inevitably follow, of course, in each case: there will always be exceptions – but it is a general tendency, and one that most certainly should not be discounted when interpreting the results of extremely vague surveys such as these. In response to the question “If law firms don’t do it themselves, who else is going to?” posed by the person interviewed – the obvious answer is the individuals who want a career in law. Why on earth should people from any background sit back and wait for careers to find them? It is the responsibility of everyone who wants a serious career to take active steps from an early age to consider what sort of career to pursue and to pursue it. It is abject nonsense to suggest that anybody has any sort of duty to make people want to join any particular profession. As to the concept of “representation”, that is seriously misconceived: the function of the legal profession is not to “represent” people in the sense of be comprised of people in equal proportions to the general population: it is to provide legal services. There is no basis whatsoever to suggest that people cannot adequately provide legal services to people dissimilar to themselves, and it is consider pernicious bigotry to suggest to the contrary. Any given specialist job will inevitably take a non-representative sample of the population, as the characteristics required for success in such a job are likely to be such as to favour people that have those characteristics, who often also tend to have other associated characteristics as a consequence or antecedent cause. The only proper and legitimate basis for selection of any candidate for any position in any profession under any circumstances whatsoever is merit – anything less than that amounts to prejudice bigotry and is extremely serious misconduct. Reply Link Plain Speaker 4 February 2009 at 15:25 Moral high ground Very glad I’m not a client of James E Petts if his letters of advice read like that posting ! Reply Link Anonymous 4 February 2009 at 17:37 BOTTOM UP NOT TOP DOWN!!! One of the (many) problems with the current Labour government is its obsession with top-down interference. Nobody can doubt the merits of social mobility. It gives individuals ambition and aspirations, makes education relevant and encourages people to better themselves. However, what research like this highlights is the inadequacy of comprehensive education. There are too many bright students who are let down by a system that does not stretch the academically gifted and does not give them a smooth enough route into professions such as law and medicine. If the private sector can do it, then why not the public sector? I am sick of the government and research organisations trying to make excuses for the (generally) poor standard of state education by blaming ‘elitist’ universities or ‘elitist’ professions. To succeed in life children need knowledge and skills that should be provided by the education system and are not. The answer is not to lower the standards of our top universities and our top professions but is to ensure that young people are sufficiently equipped in terms of academic training and career advice so that they do not waste their potential. It is the job of the education system to address this, not law firms. Reply Link Anonymous 4 February 2009 at 20:05 James E. Petts’ Parents “It ought also be considered that people strongly tend to marry (and therefore have children with) people similar to themselves, (…) and the combined genetic and environmental influence from that (…) is considerably more likely to produce children who are hard-working and successful than those born to parents who are neither.” So, YOUR parents must have been … a. 100 years old when they had you b. out of touch with the oustide world or c. pseudo-intellectual bobos Reply Link Anonymous 5 February 2009 at 16:51 Elitist perception when I read the comment in this article “not for the likes of us” It certainly did strike a chord with me. When I was applying for university I chose not to to study law as I felt that becoming a legal practitioner would be almost impossible. I have subsequently found this not to be the case, however, i believe the industry could do more to dispel the perception that law is an elite club for public school graduands only. Reply Link Lionel Hutz 6 February 2009 at 17:28 Re James E Petts James has made two fundamental mistakes in his ill-informed and rather tedious rant. 1) To separate wealth and privilege flies in the face of all available data. Children from wealthier homes perform better at school and get better jobs. Either the poor are congenitally stupid (which he actually seems to believe) or there is something else going on. 2) He confuses social mobility with positive discrimination. Social mobility means equal opportunity for everyone, no matter what their background. It means removing the barriers that clearly exist in certain professions. This research simply shows that more needs to be done, by the government, schools, universities – and the legal profession. Reply Link Anonymous 7 February 2009 at 02:50 Workplace Diversity Workplace diversity is little more than a fanciable notion used to enforce irrational discrimination to promote the less able and to appease our collective social conscience. The notion that there is a vast pool of untapped academic talent among various “under-represented” categories of people, whether by class or by race, equally belongs to the realm of fairy tale. There is a vast body of empirical evidence which shows conclusively that IQ, a genetically determined trait, is the most accurate means of prediciting success, irrespective of background, social class and environment. Science is not politically correct, so this notion may seem alien to many. However, throwing money at perpetuating discrimination, such as the failed affirmative action programs of USA, Malaysia, Zimbabwe and South Africa to name but a few, has repeatedly failed to ‘level the playing field’. The idea that those who have the potential should be assisted to acheive their potential is a good one – however, the problem with that is that this would not diversify our workplaces. Reply Link Name Email Cancel reply Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.