Profession remains elite despite social diversity push

Social diversity programmes have a mountain to climb, with 15 per cent of lawyers educated privately compared with seven per cent of the population.

According to a survey by legal recruiter Laurence Simons those who are privately educated are seven times more likely to enter the profession than those educated in the state sector.

Laurence Simons managing director Naveen Tuli slammed the statistic, stating that  social exclusivity is “rife” in the profession.

He continued: “The fact that 15 per cent of people attended one of just 250 of the nation’s most exclusive schools shows this is a real policy blind spot – a lot has been done to address the under-representation of women and ethnic minority groups and we’re at least on the way to tackling those issues.

“But the under-representation of those who can’t afford a silver-plated education is getting worse, not better.”

The decline of state grammar schools and broader academic standards in the state sector has effectively created a barrier to the profession, the recruiter added.

In the late 1980s – when the last generation of those educated at grammar schools were entering work – 10 per cent fewer barristers and 15 per cent fewer solicitors were privately educated than in the early 2000s.

Tuli said: “With 53 per cent of magic circle solicitors and 82 per cent of barristers having been educated at Oxbridge, there is a clear link between competitiveness when entering higher education and the ability to achieve a legal career after university. And you can’t get into Oxbridge if you can’t demonstrate the highest level of academic achievement at school.”

The survey analysed data from 49,600 LinkedIn lawyer profiles, finding that 7,200 individuals attended private schools.