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How to boost social mobility in your law firm

Firms regulated by the SRA must report their workforce’s diversity data, including socio-economic diversity statistics. This has helped build a picture at the national and regional level.

SRA data from 2021 on socio-economic background in law firms looks at parental occupation at age 14, school type and parental qualifications:

  • 23% of solicitors attended a fee-paying school (compared to 7.5% nationally)
  • 58% come from a professional background – meaning their parents were in occupations classified as professional rather than intermediate or working class (compared to 37% nationally)

Read more on how diverse law firms are

1. Measure – the crucial first step

To devise an evidence-based strategy for boosting social mobility in your workforce, it’s important to collect data on the socio-economic background of your employees and potential recruits.

We recommend you follow best practice guidance on collecting and analyzing socio-economic data to help you:

  • better understand where intervention is needed
  • monitor progress

Employers have been using several questions to capture the socio-economic background of employees, but which is the best one?

“What was the occupation of your main household earner when you were aged 14?”

This is the key question recommended by the Social Mobility Commission to measure socio-economic diversity accurately and simply, alongside three other supplementary questions.

The SRA already requires firms to collect data in a way that aligns with the recommended best practice. Use the Social Mobility Commission toolkit to:

  • analyze your data
  • increase response rates

In its last round of data collection, the SRA aligned the questions it requires firms to use to mirror these recommendations.

2. How does your company compare?

Socio-economic diversity varies between work types in different-sized law firms.

For instance, solicitors from large firms are more likely to have parents from a professional background and have attended a fee-paying school.

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