If you want your child to earn the real big bucks that the solicitor profession offers, then pay to send them to a private – or even better, public – school. It will cost you about £250,000 after tax, judging by average (and fast-increasing) fee rates. You will earn it back when your grateful offspring places you in an upmarket nursing home.
That is one conclusion an aspirational parent might justifiably draw from the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s latest diversity survey. Privately educated people are over-represented by a factor of five in the senior ranks of the UK profession’s most rarefied echelon.
Should this be a source of shame? Perhaps not – the UK’s biggest firms are global leaders and they are enormously successful and profitable. Social engineering is a matter for politicians, not commerce. And City law’s elitism more or less mirrors other UK professions, ranging from the armed forces to journalism. This is, in short, a societal problem – if, indeed, it is to be counted as a problem.
Still, the data highlight once again that for all the welcome (if uneven) progress made on gender, race and sexuality in the City, it is class which remains the elephant in the room.
As British sociologist Richard Hoggart (pictured) once wrote: ‘Each decade we shiftily declare we have buried class; each decade the coffin stays empty.’ We fear it will take more than £1m from the Sutton Trust to lay it to rest for good.