The number of university entrants taking law degrees continues to surge, as the solicitors profession becomes ever more ethnically diverse.
These are among the headline findings of the Law Society’s latest Annual Statistics Report, covering 2017/18.
Nearly a sixth of solicitors now come from black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, an annual increase of 2.1% hailed by the Society as ‘a cause for celebration’.
However, the proportion of the practising profession for which there is no ethnicity data rose to 17%, which the Society warned compromises diversity and inclusion initiatives.
From the available data, the ethnicity and gender gap at more senior levels remains stubbornly high. Over 40% of male solicitors in private practice are partners, compared with less than 20% of women and just over 20% of BAME solicitors.
‘We are making progress, but we need to do more to ensure our profession reflects the community we serve,’ commented Society president Simon Davis.
The number of new students accepted on to first degree law courses increased to 24,575 for 2018/19, which should provide for further growth in law graduates over the next three to five years.
After overtaking men last year to comprise the majority of solicitors, women continue to greatly outnumber men among newly qualifieds. In 2017/18, 62% of admissions were women, up from 53% 17 years ago.
Overall, the profession’s remarkable growth over the last three decades continues unabated. On 31 July 2018 there were 143,167 solicitors with practising certif icates, a 2.5% annual rise, and 188,868 people on the roll (up 3.8%). Over 22% of PC holders were in-house.