Mandatory equality and diversity criteria could be introduced for law firms in Scotland if voluntary guidance fails to yield significant changes.

The Law Society of Scotland this week published a three-year strategy to improve equality and diversity in the profession, and support solicitors as they progress through their careers.

The strategy focuses work on themes where little change has been seen, such as equal pay, work patterns - including the impact of maternity leave on both the time to, and chances, of making partner - and issues relating to accessibility of firms to clients with a range of impairments.

A key focus over the three years will be a new equal pay framework and the launch of more specific advice on 10 key equality standards firms may wish to achieve. This will become formal guidance next year.

The society said it encouraged all firms to adopt the new framework and, that, ‘in three years’ time, we will review whether the voluntary approach is delivering the desired results, or whether rule changes should be put to the profession for debate’.

Janet Hood, convener of the society’s equality and diversity committee, said it was important the profession ‘leads on equality work like this, not just for those who work in the legal sector but for all those they represent and advise’.

‘We have made great progress in improving equality and diversity within the legal profession in recent years,’ she added. ‘However, there is still a need for the society and solicitors to be more proactive in driving change.’