More work to be done to improve the ethnic and professional diversity of the judiciary
A report from the Ministry of Justice into the current diversity of the judiciary shows continuous improvement for women but stagnation for solicitors and ethnic minorities.
There has been some progress in the overall representation of female judges and judges of Asian and mixed ethnicity backgrounds, while the tribunals judiciary continues to have better representation from women, solicitors and ethnic minority lawyers.
“We remain concerned as to the continuous significant disparity in outcomes between ethnic minority and white candidates and for solicitor candidates compared with barristers, across judicial exercises,” said Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce
“Resulting from our continued support and encouragement, solicitors now make up 45% of applications which demonstrates our members’ interest in judicial careers. However, solicitors only make up 27% of recommendations for appointment.
“Similarly, Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates represent 23% of applicants, but only 11% of recommendations for judicial posts.
“There has also been a reduction in the proportion of judges from a solicitor background and no change in the proportion of black judges, which remained at 1% since 2014.
“We believe the Judicial Diversity Forum (JDF) should now explore reasons for leaving the judiciary, in light of the worrying number of solicitors leaving the bench. This could have a knock-on effect on the overall diversity of our judiciary.
“Within the senior court judiciary, white former barristers occupied almost all posts (95%), with non-barristers and ethnic minority judges significantly underrepresented in the senior courts ranks.
“We remain strongly committed to taking action at all stages of the judicial life-cycle that will improve diversity in the judiciary.
“As a member of the JDF, we will seek to work alongside other organisations to further expand on its commitment on judicial diversity.
“In this vein, we have committed to continue to drive to increase disability declaration rates by including disability data in the 2023 report.
"We have also agreed on a set of new questions which will record the socio-economic background of judicial office holders and lawyers from 2025.
“We will continue to support our members to make strong judicial applications through our webinars, workshops and Solicitor Judges Division, as well as our commitment to the Pre-Application Judicial Education programme (PAJE).”
Notes to editors
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