Diversity and inclusion

We must do more to encourage social mobility in the legal profession

Professional jobs are on the up, but the lack of diversity is stalling progression in professional services. Hybrid and flexible working could provide an opportunity to change the current status quo in the legal profession, according to the Law Society of England and Wales.

The Social Mobility Commission’s state of the nation report 2021 found that since 2012, 75% of the UK’s job growth has been in professional jobs. In 2020, 49% of UK jobs were professional, while less than 30% were blue-collar jobs.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We are pleased to see that professional jobs have expanded over the last decade, creating opportunities throughout the professional services sectors.

“Whether this expansion improves relative social mobility in the UK depends on who gets these jobs. At present, it looks like you still have a much greater chance of getting a professional job if you are from a professional background.

“We all have a part to play by ensuring that we are actively reaching out to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and removing the barriers to entry and progression.

“We recognise more needs to be done to monitor socio-economic diversity across the profession too, including who gets access to the higher-level apprenticeships in the sector, and who gets on and reaches the senior levels of the profession.”

According to the report, professional workers are more likely to come from privileged, rather than working class backgrounds in England and Wales. In addition, in 2019 those in professional jobs who had working class backgrounds earned around £6,000 less than their privileged counterparts.

I. Stephanie Boyce added: “The pandemic has widened socio-economic inequalities in education and employment, but has also created potential opportunities for firms and organisations to reach out to students and candidates in geographical areas that have historically had low social mobility.

“We look forward to engaging with the wider legal and professional services sector to help drive social mobility in the coming year via our participation in the new Social Mobility Taskforce for professional services.”

Key findings

  • In England, 62% of those in professional jobs are from privileged backgrounds, compared to 39% from working class backgrounds
  • In Wales, 53.7% of those from professional backgrounds end up in professional jobs, compared to 35.7% of those from working class backgrounds

Notes to editors

Read the Social Mobility Commission’s state of the nation report 2021

Read about our Diversity Access Scheme

Find out about our social mobility ambassadors

Read about the Social Mobility Taskforce

Watch our webinar on driving social mobility change in the profession

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928

Maximise your Law Society membership with My LS