How do we get the properly diverse profession that all bien-pensant lawyers say they want? Inequality of opportunity is often overlooked because it is just too uncomfortable (or political) to contemplate.
Senior judges, who tend to be white and male, will frequently have had £200,000 in today’s money spent on their secondary education alone. What of the diligent young fellow on free school meals at Coketown Secondary, which has never sent a pupil to Oxbridge? He may have been born equally white (and bright), but it is plain daft to lump him into the same diversity outcome demographic.
The same goes for his female Coketown classmate. If she becomes a magic circle partner, does that count for more than a BME contemporary who went to Roedean ascending to the same exalted berth? The answer is, well – yes and no.
Such thoughts sprang to mind when reading the SRA’s latest research on diversity. Not unreasonably, most seized on the headline finding that white men are six times more likely than BME women to make partner. This is depressing and the research mirrors grim (though improving) figures for representation on FTSE company boards.
Yet, without layering in sophisticated data on life advantage (class?) to what we know of gender and race disparities, such reports are at best two-dimensional.