Falconer: Outreach initiatives to boost diversity

Law firms must reach out to school children if Britain wants to have a diverse judiciary, the Lord Chancellor said last week.

Speaking at an event hosted at Wragge & Co in Birmingham last Friday (2 February), Lord Falconer of Thoroton said that the profession needs to represent British society, and that law firm outreach programmes are essential to effect this change.

Falconer said: “By expanding the spectrum of people within the legal profession, it should follow that it will become more representative. If we don’t attract people from a broader social background into the law at a younger age, we won’t get a more diverse judiciary.”

Falconer added that law firms need to make a career in law a possibility for those who hadn’t considered it before, and to get young people thinking about it while they are still in school.

“Law firms should think about operating outreach programmes to 15 and 16-year-olds, because they may not be aware what options are open,” he said.

Falconer had previously ruled out introducing diversity quotas, asserting that appointments to the bench or as QCs should be made solely on merit.

Research published by the Sutton Trust in 2005 revealed the number of privately educated partners in law firms was growing. In 2004, 71 per cent of partners aged under 40 were independently educated, while in 1988 the figure was just 59 per cent.