Students from disadvantaged backgrounds require higher A Level grades to attend top law schools than their peers, a study of England’s most selective universities has found.

According to research by the Bridge Group, a social equality consultancy, students from low social economic backgrounds who are accepted by elite law schools are significantly more likely than more advantaged students to have been predicted at least AAB in their A Levels.

‘This means that law schools require applicants from less advantaged backgrounds to have higher grades than their more advantaged peers. This is contrary to the intended commitment to access,’ the report concludes, adding that the data was not detailed enough to confirm the reasons for the difference.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with York Law School and magic circle firm Clifford Chance, found that students from lower socio-economic backgrounds are half as likely to attend England's top 20 law schools than their peers and make up less than a quarter of successful applicants.

Dr Penelope Griffin, director of higher education and impact at the Bridge Group, said: ‘It is surprising that applicants from lower socio-economic neighbourhoods need higher A-level grades. We recommend that law schools investigate the impact of their admissions requirements and processes.’

The report says universities should consider contextual admissions and develop a more evidence-based approach to setting grade requirements. It also recommends the creation of a law admissions network for admissions tutors and staff to support entry by students from less advantaged backgrounds.